Grade Errors (and non-Errors)

Update: It seems all grade errors have been resolved.

Grading Non-Errors

Some people are asking about rounding.

There are two parts to this:

  1. There are many ways to do rounding. The grade computations script does it in a particular way. If you compute your grade yourself, you might round differently. The most important thing is to be consistent. If I were to switch rounding schemes, I would need to do it in a fair and consistent way.

  2. The cutoffs are hard. The cutoffs (on the course web site since day 1) are what they are, and the class is designed to adjust grades around them. Yes, it is arbitrary that 90 is an A and 89.99 is an AB. But, this is no more arbitrary than 89.51 being an A and 89.5 being an AB (and debating with students whether 89.51 or 89.5 should be the cutoff). No matter where you set a cutoff, someone will be on the wrong side of it. (in some ways, this is a form of aliasing - it’s a property of a discrete grading grading system)

For students near a boundary: I looked at each one carefully. I did not move boundaries, but some students were given some extra points (this was actually explained in the initial course policy). In no case was anyone ever moved downward.

For perspective… to raise a final score 1 point, you need about 15 more points on a workbook. In most cases, workbook grading was pretty generous.

The grading system already considered the cutoffs. This is why we designed each assignment to give the correct numbers, and gave “extra points” on each of the exams independently.


The deadlines for re-grades for Workbooks are long past. I cannot re-grade things at this point.

The Grading Errors

The Grading Errors: I posted an announcement, and many people saw their official grades change. The grades on Canvas are correct, the “official” grades were fixed yesterday (but the changes may take time to appear) (and accepted by the Dean).

This is more detail than you probably want to know, but…

Reporting your final grades requires me to put them into “Faculty Center” - the faculty version of student center. It’s not a tool I use much. And, it doesn’t communicate well with the other tools we use (e.g., Canvas). I was unable to used automatic grade import from Canvas for this class.

Putting grades in requires matching students based on name. Which of course, creates problems when students have similar names. When there are many students with the same last names, it has to use the first names. But in some cases, the system uses one name internally, and one name externally.

Or, if a student has an upper case letter in their name, it doesn’t always tell me (since it displays all upper case), but uses “ASCII ordering” (so “Z” comes before “a”).

So, the order that things are in the long list on Faculty Center (or the spreadsheet I can fill in for simplifying upload), is different than any other list I have.

Checking that things are correct is a manual process. I need to go through and check each one. Normally, I do this with a TA watching over my shoulder. This year, I did it in COVID isolation.

Needless to say, some errors slipped through where grades were reported in Canvas order, so students with the same last name (or a name with a capital letter, or before someone with a capital letter) got each others' grades.

Fixing errors requires a process: I need to file grade change requests for each error. (the user experience for this is not great). And, once I request the change, I get little feedback that I have done it correctly: it goes to a Dean’s office for approval. The L&S Dean processes these promptly, there is one student that the Engineering Dean seems to be stalling on the Engineering Dean’s office took their time, but did process them.

If you are one of the students who was affected by this, I apologize for the inconvenience. I appreciate that seeing the wrong grade in your grade report can be stress inducing, or, might be disappointing if you had gotten the grade for some other student who did better. If I have to grade in isolation again, I will put more checks in place.

If you are not one of the students affected, I apologize for troubling you with this. I chose to make a broadcast announcement to everyone as I was not sure how broad the problem was.