Adams School of Dentistry: DDS ACT Curriculum Grading System Policy

Unit Policy


Adams School of Dentistry: Policy on DDS ACT Curriculum Grading System


The UNC-Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry (ASOD) uses a Pass-Fail grading system. The Pass-Fail grading system promotes a competency-based education and shifts the focus of getting a high grade to mastery motivation while promoting wellness. For clinical assessment, an Entrustable Professional Activities (EPA) framework provides the foundation for practice readiness and daily assessments within the clinical setting provide data for determining a student’s practice readiness.

A. Management of Grading System Standards

Course Directors

  • Responsible for determining the criteria for passing a course and monitoring learning throughout a course.
  • Responsible for recording, maintaining, and reporting the performance of each learner.
  • Numerical scores may be given for assignments, quizzes, simulation experiences and other types of assessments as formative feedback. This may be done by reporting the “grades” used to determine pass/fail, or another meaningful and objective method that yields data to be used to monitor learner performance.

Predoctoral Directors and/or Course Faculty

  • Responsible for recording, maintaining, and reporting the performance of each learner for discipline-specific content.
  • Numerical scores may be given for assignments, quizzes, simulation experiences and other types of assessments as formative feedback and ideally associated with specific learning objectives established for mastery.
  • Final course grades focus on competency.

Teaching Committee

  • Responsible for reviewing concern and commendation forms, course grades, to determine if learners require Learner Improvement Plans or disciplinary action at every block (six weeks).

Student Progress Review Team

  • Responsible for making recommendations to the Academic Performance Committee following review of learner data to determine practice readiness.

Academic Performance Committee

  • Responsible for decision-making at the end of each semester to review learner progression and achievement, determine practice readiness/graduation, academic probation, deceleration, or dismissal of learners from the program.
  • Special meetings of the APC can be called if indicated.

Executive Vice Dean for Education

Associate Dean for Curriculum

  • Responsible for guiding curriculum development and courses that align with academic process and policies. 
  • Dr. Rocio Quinonez,

Curriculum Management Team

  • Responsible for ensuring that learning outcomes are being met and grading criteria for courses support curricular efforts and policies.


  • Responsible for registering learners for courses, submitting final grades in ConnectCarolina, and maintaining a registry of learner progress for each course, semester, and practice readiness.
  • Emily Gadziola,

B. Policy

Students are expected to meet the performance standards for all components of all courses and programs to be able to graduate from the ASOD’s Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program.

Course Pass/Fail Criteria

The ASOD utilizes the grading system below for didactic and clinical courses. As approved by the Curriculum Committee in March 2016, exams and other types of evaluations will be graded to no more than one decimal place, and then averaged to give a final grade calculated up to two decimal places (e.g., 89.45). For the final grade, any decimal below 0.50 will be rounded down to the next integer, while any decimal 0.50 or greater will be rounded up to the next integer.

In addition to requiring a grade of 75% to pass the course, course directors reserve the right to require learners to pass individual components of the course as outlined in each syllabus.


  • Pass = 75% or above
  • Fail = 74% or below
  • Additional Pass criteria may be identified in clinical course syllabi.

Distribution of Grades to Learners

The results of examinations, daily assignments or other graded work will be posted in the Learning Management System (Canvas). Results also can be given directly to learner by course instructors when confidentiality and privacy are assured. Some relevant information regarding the distribution of scores can be made available so learners can determine the context of their score. Grades will be considered definitive after three (3) business days for multiple choice exams or up to ten (10) business days for essay and similar style exams.

Learners receive course grades in ConnectCarolina within 72 hours of the scheduled final exam time for the course.

Course Remediation

For all courses, numerical grades will be given for all assignments, quizzes, and exams, and will be posted in the learning management system (Canvas) grade book.  Students have access to exam and other scores throughout the semester.

Failure to meet the criteria for a course grade of Pass (PS) prompts the course director to enter a temporary grade of Incomplete (IN) in ConnectCarolina, pending eligibility for and completion of remediation, which occurs after a course is completed and must be approved by the Academic Performance Committee (APC). As described below, in some circumstances a grade of Fail (F) is assigned rather than an IN.

Following each six-week block, the Teaching Committees meet to discuss learner progress. They may require a Learner Concern Form and/or Learner Improvement Plan (LIP) for any learner at risk of failing a course. These should be issued as soon as possible for concerns including but not limited to failure of one or more exams within a block, documented display(s) of unprofessional conduct, or multiple critical errors in clinical skills. Learner Improvement Plans provide details from the course director about additional support for the learner; however, the learner will not be allowed to remediate any aspect of the course until it is finished and the APC has approved the remediation plan.  Learners will undertake any clinic-related Learner Improvement Plans as ongoing remediation during their required clinical hours.

Remediation of a course is intended to bring underperforming students to a level of competency expected in the course and should provide opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate required knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes through self-directed learning and purposeful interactions with faculty. Student and faculty should both be active participants in the remediation process. 

Remediation can include additional instruction, assignments, and assessments when a student does not meet the didactic, behavioral, or clinical course criteria as determined and published by course directors and the APC. Certain courses may not be eligible for remediation, due to the knowledge or skills required to progress to other courses and may result in the learner re-taking the course during the following academic year. As noted above, the APC must approve remediation plans recommended by a course director or Teaching Committee.  In some cases, the APC itself may prescribe a specific remediation plan.

Upon successful completion of a course remediation plan, the Incomplete (IN) grade will be changed to Pass (PS) for the course. Failure to successfully remediate will result in a change of the IN grade to Fail (F) for the course. If the remediation plan was prescribed to resolve an F grade, the original F grade remains on the student’s transcript and a second (PS) grade is given for the remediation. 

Students are limited to three course remediations throughout dental school, but no more than two in the first two years. Exceeding the maximum number of remediations will automatically prompt the APC to consider a learner for deceleration or dismissal.

Re-taking a course means a student will enroll in a failed course at its next offering. They will have an F on their transcript for the failed course and a second grade for the class retake (i.e., two grades for the same course on the transcript).

The didactic curriculum includes courses that represent single disciplines or topic areas and others that include multiple disciplines.  For purposes of remediation, these course types are handled differently.

For courses such as DENT 522 that involve only a single discipline, no in-course “remediation” or re-testing is permitted except under extraordinary circumstances identified by the course director and approved by Academic Affairs.  However, a course director may require that learners pass both components of a course if it includes both a didactic and a laboratory portion.  This requirement must be stated in the course syllabus.  In this specific example, failure to achieve an average grade of 75 results in a failing (F) grade.

Within a multi-discipline course such as DENT 512, learners must pass every discipline block with an average score of at least 75% to receive a PS grade for the course indicating successful mastery of its content.  Each discipline block’s grade is calculated by the block director.  Grading for the block can be determined by a variety of methods including exams, quizzes, clinical activity, and class participation.  Re-testing to address failure of an exam or block is prohibited unless expressly approved by Academic Affairs. 

For learners who do not achieve 75% in one or more blocks, the course director may recommend remediation to the Teaching Committee and APC.  In such cases, an Incomplete (IN) grade is submitted until (1) the APC has approved a remediation plan and (2) the learner has successfully completed it.  The grade then converts to a PS.  The APC is not required to approve a remediation plan presented by the course director or Teaching Committee.  At the conclusion of a multi-discipline course, a cumulative average below 65% will result in an automatic failure of the course.

Failure of any course will place the student on academic probation for the following semester and prompts the APC to review the student’s status.  The APC may prescribe course remediation or re-take but has the authority to reclassify (decelerate) or dismiss a student for inadequate academic performance.

The APC will review any student who is on academic probation for two semesters for possible deceleration or dismissal from the program. Refer to the ASOD's Policy on DDS Academic Standing.

Program Deceleration

Refer to the ASOD's Student Reclassification and Dismissal Policy.

Program Dismissal

Refer to the ASOD's Student Reclassification and Dismissal Policy.

C. Transcript Legend

Grades Used

  • F = Failed
  • F* = Administratively assigned after failure to convert IN or AB to a grade within 1 year
  • NG = No Grade; assigned administratively for pending Honor Court situations
  • PS = Pass; entirely satisfactory (Pass/Fail)
  • W = Withdrew from course - assigned administratively when dropped prior to final grade given
  • *** (No Report) Class Roll not received

Temporary Grades

Lapse one year (by semesters) to an F* if a permanent grade is not reported.

  • AB = Absent from examination
  • IN = Work Incomplete

D. Additional Information

Responsible Party and Review Cycle

The Advocate-Clinician-Thinker (ACT) Curriculum Management Team will review the policy annually and update as needed, with input from the Student Progress Review Team (SPRT) and the ACT Phase Teams. Amendments to the policy will be voted upon by the ASOD Faculty Senate for approval before submission to the UNC-Chapel Hill Registrar for final approval.

References to Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) Standards

Standard 2.1: Instruction

In advance of each course or other unit of instruction, students must be provided written information about the goals and requirements of each course, the nature of the course content, the method(s) of evaluation to be used, and how grades and competency are determined.

Standard 2.2: Instruction

If students do not meet the didactic, behavioral, and/or clinical criteria as published and distributed, individual evaluations must be performed that lead to an appropriate decision in accordance with institutional due process policies.

Appeals/Grade Changes

Refer to the ASOD's Policy on Student Due Process.

Academic Standards for Holding Student Office or Serving as a Teaching Assistant

To hold an elected or appointed office (position) or position of leadership in any organization affiliated with and approved by the school or to serve as a teaching assistant (TA), the learner must be registered for a full-time course of study (not reduced or modified) and must be in good academic (not on probation) and disciplinary standing. TA appointments are at the discretion of the Office of Academic Affairs.

E. Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

Unit Policies, Standards, and Procedures

F. Contact Information

Primary Contacts
Topic Officer Contact Info
Questions about policy Executive Vice Dean for Education
Questions about policy Associate Dean for Curriculum
Questions about policy ASOD Registrar
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Article ID: 134268
Fri 7/9/21 8:15 AM
Thu 6/20/24 12:29 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Adams School of Dentistry
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Executive Vice Dean for Education
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
01/10/2025 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
06/04/2024 12:49 PM
Last Revised
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06/04/2024 12:50 PM
Effective Date
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06/24/2022 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
02/25/2021 12:00 AM

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