10. Grading

August 18, 2013
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10.       Grading

Capstone projects are graded blind, using a standard rubric in which points are assigned or deducted based on specific criteria. The grading rubric is made available to students during the semester, and is generally available on the Capstone Project Website at http://capstone.jjconline.net.

While use of the rubric is intended to promote consistency in grading, there will be variations in grading decisions by the faculty members grading the submissions. These variations are appropriate in the review of a complex policy analysis, and are consistent with the variations in decision-maker support that a policy analysis would achieve in a real-world project.

The following grading rules and processes apply:

  • The course is graded on a PASS/FAIL/IN basis, based on the scores assigned in the assessment of the project submissions.
  • A conventional IN grade can be assigned by the faculty member. The rules for satisfying an IN are explained in a subsequent section of this policy.
  • Capstone projects are to be graded by MPA faculty members who are not teaching the section in which the student is enrolled. Generally, the faculty members who grade projects are teaching the other capstone sections during the semester involved, or have taught the capstone course at least once.
  • The projects are graded on a 100-point scale, where the primary memorandum can receive up to 60 points and the other two components each receive up to 20 points. A total of 60 points is necessary to pass the overall project.
  • If, during the first-round first-reader grading, the student’s project does not achieve at least 60 points, the project will automatically be assigned to a first-round second-reader second faculty member will then grade the project. If the second-reader faculty member assigns 60 points or more, then the student passes. If the second-reader faculty member does not assign 60 points or more, the student will be informed by the faculty member teaching the students course section, who will also share both sets of grading sheets with the student. The student then has the opportunity to make revisions to the project and resubmit the project for a second-round grading.
  • The second-stage grading works like the first one. A second-round first-reader faculty member grades the project, and it if does not pass a second-round second-reader faculty member grades the project.
  • In summary, for a student to fail at this stage of the course, there will have been two project submissions and four separate unsatisfactory gradings of the project.
  • When a student has failed the first and second rounds of grading, the faculty member for the student’s section has the discretion to initiate two additional review options: portfolio review and third-round grading. However, the faculty member must determine that the student has consistently attended class in accordance with the attendance expectations set out in the course syllabus for the section, and that even though the second-round submission failed, that the student made material revisions intended to be responsive to the comments on the first submission. Students are not automatically entitled to the additional review options.
  • In particular, a student with a very high GPA may not bypass participation in the course and bypass submission of the project, intending to pass the requirement based on the portfolio review process. The opportunity for portfolio review must be earned through effort and attendance.
  • The portfolio review process takes into consideration the student’s achievements in the entire MPA Program curriculum. A designated faculty member who administers the portfolio review process calculates an alternate score for the student based on the following rules:
    • Primary memorandum: The highest score achieved based on the following: The highest of the first-round and second-round gradings for this section of the project, or, up to 3.5 points of the student’s MPA Program GPA, multiplied by 10, as of the end of the prior semester. For example, a student with a 3.0 GPA could have a primary memorandum score raised to 30 points out of 60.
    • Executive summary and presentation: The highest scores achieved based on the following: The highest of the first-round and second-round gradings for these section of the project, or, the student’s MPA Program GPA, multiplied by 2.5, as of the end of the prior semester. For example, a student with a 3.0 GPA could have the executive summary and/or the presentation score raised to 7.5 points out of 20.
    • Portfolio Review Passing Score: The minimum passing score on portfolio review is 55 points.
  •  The grade of IN should be assigned to students who receive failing grades in the first and second grading cycles, do not meet the portfolio review eligibility criteria or fail the portfolio review, and failed the third grading cycle.
  • A grade in F should be assigned when a student has plagiarized substantial parts of a submission.
  • For students who are taking PAD 771 the first time, an alternative option which the faculty member can initiate for a failing student is the third round of the grading cycle. This option is also not an entitlement and requires the same level of substantial participation as explained above for the portfolio review. The faculty member offer the student two weeks to resubmit the project for a third reading. The grading is based on the standard two-faculty-member process, and the portfolio review criteria also apply.
  • If the student’s project still receives a failing score, including the portfolio review scores, then the student receives an IN grade for the course. If the student passes the course, then the student receives a P.
  • If a student receives an IN in the course, the student will be permitted to informally attend and complete the capstone course one more time, and resubmit the capstone project to a subsequent class section as explained in the “Incomplete Grades” section that follows. In either case, the result of the grading in the informally-attended class section is the basis for resolving the IN in the prior section of PAD 771.
  • If the student does not complete the course on the second attempt within one year following the year following the end on the semester when the IN was assigned, the student will not be permitted to take the course again and will be dismissed from the program due to failure to complete the capstone requirement on a timely basis.