COVID-19 The use of incomplete grade for Spring 2020

Dear Colleagues:

I write with the intent of offering some guidance with respect to the use of Incomplete (I) as an assigned grade for the Spring 2020 semester. The policy and procedure for awarding a grade of I appears in the UIS Catalog (2019-2020) and is provided in its entirety below:

Incomplete Work

Students with extraordinary circumstances that prevent them from completing all requirements for a course on time may request a designation of “I” (Incomplete) from their instructor. The assignment of an incomplete is solely at the instructor’s discretion, and requires that the student complete all course requirements within 12 months of the end of the term for which the incomplete was assigned. It is at the discretion of the instructor to determine the length of time allowed to complete the course work, which may be less than 12 months. If all course work must be submitted by a date less than 12 months, the instructor must inform the student of the due date at the time the incomplete is assigned. When an incomplete is assigned, the instructor also submits a “provisional grade” reflecting the grade that the student will receive if the course is not completed at the end of 12 months. Please note that re-registration in the course is not necessary, unless required by the instructor.

An optional form can be used by a faculty member when preparing to assign an incomplete grade.  This optional form outlines the reason for the incomplete and the outstanding course requirements that must still be completed.  The form is available on the Records and Registration website.

Spring 2020 Grading Options

The Spring 2020 semester is unique in that faculty must decide what grades to assign to students whose engagement in their course may have fluctuated after the conversion to remote teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic following spring break.  Assigning letter grades for those students who have remained engaged since UIS pivoted to remote teaching and learning is fairly straightforward.  The challenge that many of you are confronting is what to do with students who were engaged intermittently or who were completely missing from your course after the transition to remote learning.

We understand that you have no doubt made repeated attempts to establish contact with these students, and that when you have been successful in contacting them you have been able to connect them with resources on campus that allowed them to participate fully in your class.  During your contact with these intermittently engaged students you may have determined from their circumstances that you will assign either a letter grade or an I.

There may also be some students who you have not been able to contact.  If you would like additional assistance in trying to contact these students please contact Tarah Sweeting-Trotter or Andy Egizi.  These are the students that might complicate final grade assignment – a letter grade (F) or an I. This is where flexibility and compassion interacts with academic progress and financial aid considerations.

If you award a letter grade (F):

  • The student will experience an immediate adverse impact on academic progress and financial assistance, but perhaps be motivated to seek relief by contacting the instructor or pursuing a retroactive withdrawal
  • The F could be converted to an appropriate final grade if you allow the student to complete remaining work at a later time
  • The student could petition for a retroactive partial or complete withdrawal from the university (with the hearing panel advised to exercise flexibility and compassion)

If you award the grade of I:

  • The grade of I is awarded along with the letter grade that the I will revert to in one year
  • The student will initially experience less of an impact on satisfactory academic progress, but may still experience a negative impact on financial assistance
  • You will be required to supervise the student’s completion of remaining course work within a year (or other shorter timeline) that you establish with the student

These points are offered so that you have as much information as can be provided so that you might exercise your best grading judgment with a full understanding of the impact on students of a decision to award a grade of I.  The University and I fully support whatever decision you make.


Dennis R. Papini
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost

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