Course Grading Policy for Spring 2021

This message was sent on April 5 from Provost Karl Scholz to all UW-Madison employees.

To the Campus Community:

I write with an important announcement about grading policies for spring semester 2021 in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In January, I appointed a temporary task force to consider academic policies for this semester, led by Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning John Zumbrunnen and including faculty, academic staff, students and academic administrators. Based on recommendations from the task force, and with the approval of the University Committee, we are announcing the following changes to grading policy:

  1. Disruption grading policy for spring 2021: UW-Madison will implement a very similar disruption grading policy in spring 2021 as it did in spring 2020, with the amendment noted below (see #2) that UD (Unsatisfactory-Disruption) be changed to (University Disruption-No Credit).
  2. Change to description of spring 2020 “UD” grades: The UD grade, used on the transcript for the spring 2020 term, will remain as “UD”. In public facing documents, such as the transcript legend and the Guide, the UD grade will be defined as “University Disruption-No Credit”.
  3. Pandemic transcript notation: In the transcript memorandum section for any student enrolled at UW-Madison during spring 2020-spring 2021, this standard statement will be applied: “A global public health emergency in spring 2020, summer 2020, fall 2020 and spring 2021 required marked changes to university operations that may have significantly affected student enrollment, learning and grading.”

We are implementing these changes for spring 2021 in light of the ongoing and cumulative impact of the pandemic on students. We are particularly aware of the challenges posed for students by the cancellation of our regular, week-long spring break. Please note that these changes are for spring semester 2021 only. We are not able to and will not be considering retroactive changes for summer or fall 2020, and we will return to normal grading practices beginning in summer 2021.

We are working to provide updated information and guidance on these grading policy changes soon. Separate messaging is being sent to all students, notifying them of this change.


Karl Scholz – Provost