Grading

This page addresses grading procedurestracking grades and reporting final grades.

Grading Procedures

The teaching staff should make a concerted effort to develop consistent grading standards and to provide clear, effective feedback.  Some courses have well-established practices but many do not, and the teaching staff should discuss this issue before grading.  The “Grading and Feedback” section of the Bok Center’s website offers practical advice for grading exams in large courses with multiple sections.

Many Gen Ed courses have creative assignments that may be more challenging to grade.  It is important to develop clear standards so that the teaching staff and the students understand what is being assessed and the criteria for assessing the work.  The Bok Center staff can assist with developing rubrics for grading these assignments.

Tracking Grades

In larger classes, the Head TF will often be asked to track the grades for all students.  There are a variety of ways to collect and maintain accurate grade records.  Many Head TFs create a standard spreadsheet to track grades to ensure that grades from each section are collected in a format that is easy to merge into a master spreadsheet.

All TFs are reminded that grades must be kept confidential.  The sharing of information about grades or any information that includes student information should be done using the FAS-IT Secure File Transfer tool (this requires that the sender and receiver both use their respective FAS e-mail accounts).  Head TFs are strongly discouraged from using Google Docs or other file sharing tools (e.g., Dropbox, SugarSync) as these third-party websites cannot ensure student privacy.

Reporting Final Grades

TFs are required to remain in the Greater Boston Area until the end of Exam Period, or until final grades have been submitted. Course heads and Head TFs should review the specific grade submission deadlines published in Information for Faculty Offering Instruction in Arts and Sciences.  If Course heads have degree candidates expecting to graduate at the end of the current term in their course, they will be provided electronically with separate grade lists for these students.  The Registrar’s Office asks that Course heads complete the grade list for these graduating students first and by the established deadline.  Doing so will allow the Registrar to prepare reports for awarding Latin honors, dockets for faculty and administrative meetings, as well as clearing approximately 1,700 students for their degrees.

Final grades are reported to the Registrar’s Office through my.harvard.  Instructions for how to do this are available on the my.harvard Knowledge Center.  Faculty are automatically assigned a grading role, and may elect to assign proxy graders.  Only the course head, however, can submit the final grades that are entered into the Registrar's Office database.

Course heads must also use the grade reporting system to submit an unsatisfactory grade report for any students receiving an unsatisfactory grade.  The minimum grade for degree credit (and therefore Gen Ed credit) is the passing, albeit unsatisfactory, grade of D-.  Note that undergraduates may not receive the grade of “Incomplete.”

You should keep in mind that all grade information is classified as highly sensitive and confidential data under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).  As such, this information can never be released to third parties without the written consent of the students to whom the grades have been assigned.  The electronic grading application provides grade recorders with the functionality to download grades to an Excel spreadsheet.  That said, grade information should never be stored, unencrypted, on local computers (particularly laptops) or local database systems.  Additionally, under no circumstances should exam booklets be removed from the immediate vicinity of the University.  For further information regarding information security and privacy guidelines, visit security.harvard.edu.