8.8 Academic Grading Policy

Policy Statement
All required courses and clerkships have assessments that reflect the structure, content and learning objectives of the specific block or clerkship. Assessments are comparable across all sites and include uniform standards for evaluating students’ performance and consistent guidelines for managing remediation.

The assignment of grades is the prerogative of the block and clerkship directors, who are responsible for the final determination of the evaluation of the students’ performance. No grade-point average is assigned under the School of Medicine grading system.

In order to receive the MD degree, students must receive a pass or higher grade in all courses for which they register in the medical school curriculum.

All grades and evaluations must be submitted to the School of Medicine’s Registrar’s Office within the required timeline:

  • For the Foundation Phases, grades are posted to Canvas and submitted to the UW Registrar’s Office no later than four days after the end of the quarter, per University of Washington policy.
  • For all required clerkships, the University of Washington School of Medicine, in compliance with LCME standards, requires that a grade be reported to the student within four weeks and never more than six weeks after the end of the clerkship.

Reasons that may delay the expected grade release timing for clerkships include: the designation of “incomplete” and approved make-up of missed time and/or approved delay of component of the clerkship due to illness or other extenuating circumstance

Final Course Grades
For entering class of 2015 and subsequent classes:

  • Pass/Fail: Required Foundations Phase blocks
  • Competency: Foundations Phase threads
  • Pass/Fail: Independent Investigative Inquiry (III)
  • Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail: Required Patient Care Phase and Explore and Focus Phase clerkships and clinical electives**
  • Registrar Drop (previously referred to as a withdrawal)
  • Evaluator Concern: internal designation

**All clerkships 8 credits or longer will have the option of H/HP/P/F and clerkships less than 8 credits will be Pass/Fail only. 6 credit Patient Care Required clerkships for WRITE students will have the option of H/HP/P/F (effective Spring 2023). [Approved by the School of Medicine’s Faculty Council on Academic Affairs, 12-13-2022 to become effective March 2023]

If completion of an additional paper or project is required for achievement of an Honors grade in a required or elective clinical course, all requirements for the Honors grade must be completed no later than the last day of the course.

Requirements, Procedures and Guidelines

The Associate Dean for Curriculum works in collaboration with the block, course, thread, and clerkship directors and Foundations Deans and Clinical Regional Assistant Deans who oversee compliance across all courses.

The Student Progress Committee, which is charged to review student performance, does not make determinations of grades but reviews information submitted by the faculty on student performance for making decisions on remediation or other actions related to a student’s progress in the medical school program. College faculty mentors are given access to all evaluations of their assigned medical students.

Determining Final Grade
The determination of the final grade is the prerogative of the responsible block/course or clerkship director and should be based on established criteria that are congruent at all sites offering the block/course or clerkship. For each grade level, criteria are established by the leadership responsible for the block/course or clerkship and should be outlined in the syllabus, on the relevant website, or through other materials distributed to the student. The philosophy underpinning the determination of grades is criterion- referenced assessment, such that if a student achieves the criteria specified, the student receives that grade. This means that all or none of the students could achieve a given grade.

Each block/course or clerkship is expected to have an established process for gathering information, such as test scores, formative and summative comments, and notation of performance or professional conduct concerns, if applicable. The block/course or clerkship director has overall responsibility for ensuring that evaluations are submitted on time by all faculty, teaching assistants, residents, etc., who are designated to teach and evaluate the students prior to the final grade being determined.

Final Grades for Foundations Phase
In the Foundations Phase, the grading system for required courses is Pass and Fail only. Students must also demonstrate competency of thread content in the Foundations Phase. The competency designation indicates that the student completed all thread requirements at or above the minimum standards of performance. This designation does not appear on the student’s official transcript.

Note: See the Foundations Phase Remediation for Block and Thread Policy for additional information.

Note: See Foundations Phase Grading and Assessment for additional information.

Final Grades for Clinical Phases
In the Patient Care and Explore & Focus Phases, the grading system is Honors, High Pass, Pass, and Fail. The Honors and High Pass designations are available in clinical clerkships greater than or equal to four weeks in length, and for 3 week required Patient Care WRITE clerkships. Two-week clinical electives and international clinical electives are graded on Pass/Fail only.

The determination of grades in required clerkships is determined by standardized grading rubrics. The grading criteria for achieving Honors and High Pass will be specified in the course syllabus or website. Qualification for Honors may require additional criteria or coursework, such as completion of a paper, which is subject to determination by the department responsible for the clerkship. If completion of additional criteria or coursework is required for achievement of an Honors grade, all requirements must be completed and submitted by no later than the last day of the course.

At the conclusion of each clinical clerkship, the faculty member(s) responsible for completing the evaluation must discuss the evaluation with the student in order to allow time for improvement in clerkship requirements and to provide guidance for moving forward to subsequent clinical rotations; the clerkship grade is not expected to be finalized at this point.

Note: See Clerkship Grading Policy for additional grading information during the clinical phase.

Fail Grade
A Fail grade indicates that a student has not achieved the minimum standards of performance in the block, course, or clerkship. The Student Progress Committee reviews all Fail grades and the performance of students for whom evaluations include a pattern of academic or professional development concerns. No remediation may be completed without prior approval by the Student Progress Committee. A Fail grade also appears on the student’s official transcript and the student’s Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE).

Incomplete Designation
The Incomplete designation is not a grade and may be given only in circumstances of documented, excused illness, or personal/family emergency. An Incomplete is expected to be cleared within a short time frame. If circumstances do not permit this, the Student Progress Committee, in consultation with the block or clerkship director, will determine a date by which the Incomplete must be cleared. If this deadline is not met, the Incomplete will be converted to a Fail.

To be eligible for consideration for an Incomplete, the student must call the block/clerkship director and/or the Associate Dean for Student Affairs or Foundations Dean to discuss the need to delay an examination prior to the beginning of the examination. If the student’s request for a delay is not approved and the student chooses to not take the examination at the scheduled time, a Fail will be submitted.

Evaluator Concern (Clinical Phase)
An Evaluator Concern regarding Professional Behavior or Conduct, academic performance, or attendance is included on the grading forms for courses in the clinical curriculum. The purpose of this form of faculty assessment is to provide feedback to students and to give the Student Progress Committee additional information to use in the management and oversight of students’ academic and professional development.

The Evaluator Concern designation is not recorded on the official transcript, although an observed pattern of Evaluator Concerns may be noted in the Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE). An Evaluator Concern documenting a serious deficiency or a pattern of evaluation concerns in two or more courses may result in the student’s performance being deemed unsatisfactory for continuance in the medical school program.

Timing of Release of Grades/Evaluations

Foundations Phase
Evaluations of students’ performance must be completed immediately after the conclusion of the block/course or clerkship. Block/Course grades are posted in Canvas.

Clinical Phase
Clinical grades are posted in E*Value. Grades in the clinical phases are held until students submit all evaluations.

If additional time is needed to submit the grade, the Clerkship Director or faculty must consult with the Associate Dean for Curriculum and/or the Associate Dean for Student Affairs prior to delaying the release of the grade.

Note: See University of Washington Scholastic Regulations (Item 1. C “Grading Practice for the School of Medicine”) for additional information.

Effective: Current
Last updated: February 7, 2024
Policy Contact: UW School of Medicine, Curriculum Office, somgov@uw.edu; Education Quality Improvement Office, eqi@uw.edu