COVID-19 and Grading Basis Changes

The COVID-19 virus has created a lot of challenges for higher education institutions. A front runner is grading and graduation, particularly with the inclusion of Pass/Fail and Credit/No-Credit grading options. The impact of these changes to the norm is deep and touches departments from financial aid to student financials to student housing.

To help alleviate the pain, Sierra-Cedar led discussions with colleges and universities from around the world to hash out grading basis changes within PeopleSoft Campus Solutions. The discussions dove deep into the impacts on configurations, downstream business processes, potential scripting, and technical considerations. The combined thought leadership represented more than 340 active participants from 150 different colleges and universities. It was spontaneous problem solving at its finest!

The conversations identified several key approaches:

  • Updates to Configuration:
    o Update the grading scheme setup with a new effective dated row and include the new grade input options to an existing grading basis.
    o Update the grading scheme setup with a new effective dated row and create a new grading basis with newly configured grade input values.
    o Update the academic calendars and/or security around self-service enrollment changes.
  • Updates to Enrollments:
    o Leverage registrar staff to administratively update a student’s enrollment grading basis.
    o Leverage delivered student self-service class edit functionality allowing students to request different grade basis.
    o Leverage the mass enrollment change functionality to update students’ grading basis.
    o Leverage a student self-service customization to enable students to easily update their grading basis selection(s) for impacted classes.

Several of the key areas to perform impact analysis include:

  • Student Records Grade Rosters – Review use of grade roster status and partial post options.
  • Enrollment Prerequisites – Review enrollment requirements impacted by classes with a new grade or grade basis.
  • Repeat Checking, Academic Standing, and Honors and Awards Processes – Review impact due to grade basis changes.
  • Transcript Changes – Review transcript updates that may be needed based on impacted classes/terms possibly through custom transcript text or by a grading basis description.
  • Academic Advisement – Review degree audit requirements.
  • Student Financials – Review Tuition and Equation Rules referencing the graded/impacted classes.
  • Financial Aid – Impacts to financial aid may evolve as the Department of Education provides more guidance. At present, make sure students impacted by COVID-19 are easily identifiable, including those who may choose to update grading basis, withdraw from classes, or withdraw from the term.
  • Configuration Impacts on Future Terms/Sessions – Set the grading basis configuration to revert to the prior configuration once the special requirements are no longer needed.

The Sierra-Cedar team followed up the discussion with two open office hours that focused on further collaboration around detailed approach and impact analysis. Attendees shared their experiences and leveraged the combined thought leadership of those participating to validate and update their approach to solving their institution’s specific requirements.

Click here to watch the webinar and/or office hours discussions.

Sierra-Cedar is incredibly fortunate to be able to assist the higher education community to quickly react, assess, and respond to critical impacts, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 affects all of us, and we are dedicated to working collaboratively to ease its pain. We thank you for your continued commitment to your students and your campus community, and your trust in Sierra-Cedar.