- Academic Integrity
- Academic Evaluation (Grading System)
- Non-Academic Evaluation
- Student Review Procedures
1. Academic Integrity
Students accepted for study in the rabbinical program are presumed to be of exemplary moral character. They are honor-bound to adhere to the highest academic standards, eschewing academic dishonesty in all forms, regardless of the circumstances involved.
Academic dishonesty is an act of deceit in the fulfillment of a student’s obligations to the academic community. It includes, but is not limited to:
A. Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the act of presenting the work of another as if it were one’s own. It includes quoting, paraphrasing, summarizing or utilizing the published or unpublished work of others without proper acknowledgment. Any unacknowledged use of another’s ideas constitutes plagiarism, including material derived from books, articles, other student papers, the internet, and radio or TV broadcasts.
B. Improper Use of One’s Work: The improper use of one’s own work includes, for example, submitting portions of the same academic work for credit in more than one course without permission of the instructors.
C. Fabrication: Fabrication is the intentional falsification or invention of any information or citation in an academic assignment.
D. Cheating: Cheating is the act of deceiving, which includes such acts as looking at another student’s exam (during the exam), using any prohibited aids (including one’s own notes) during exams, or whatever else is deemed contrary to institutional norms, including special rules designated by the professor in the course.
When a faculty member has information that a student has or may have violated academic integrity in a course he or she is teaching or supervising, that faculty member will discuss it with the student and will then report any violation to the vice president for academic affairs. The faculty member, in consultation with the vice president for academic affairs may choose to: give a warning without further penalty; require the rewriting of an assignment containing plagiarized material; give a LP for the course; or fail the student in the course. If a faculty member announces a failing grade in the course as a possible result of academic dishonesty, the student receiving such a penalty will not be permitted to withdraw from the course; the student transcript will reflect a permanent F.
Any member of the faculty or academic administration who encounters matters of academic dishonesty must report such cases to the vice president for academic affairs. Acts of academic dishonesty may result in disciplinary action up to and including probation or dismissal from the College.
2. Academic Evaluation
A. Grading System
The instructor assumes the responsibility for the ongoing evaluation of student work during the course of each semester. In cases of student deficiency, the instructor is strongly encouraged to meet with the student in a timely manner to discuss ways of remedying the situation. The substance of this meeting should be recorded in a memo for the student’s file, with a copy sent to the student.
At the end of the semester, instructors are asked to evaluate the student. For old curriculum courses, the categories of evaluation are preparation and participation; quality of written work; ability to understand, analyze and apply materials; interaction with instructor and other students; and any additional areas of concern. In new curriculum courses, the areas of assessment correspond to the objectives of the course, the competencies cultivated in the course and additional areas of academic and professional formation.
Students may receive the following grades as part of the evaluation of their course work at the end of each semester:
(LP) Low Pass
The grade of Low Pass is given to indicate that a student has achieved only a marginal level of competence in the course content and/or has not fulfilled the stated course requirements (e.g. attendance, assignments, hevrutah requirements, etc.), but will not be required to retake the course. Permission to retake or rewrite the work additional times is at the discretion of the instructor.
If the student submits the work by the last day of the semester in which she or he was enrolled in the course, and if the grade of LP is submitted by the instructor after the semester’s deadline for submitting grades, the student will have an additional semester to resubmit the work.
A failing grade is given to indicate that a student has not met minimal course requirements. In the case of a required course, students must retake the course (or its equivalent) or do additional work as determined by the instructor and the vice president for academic affairs.
When a student who has received a grade of F in a course re-takes the course and passes it, the original grade will be changed to a grade of XF, and the original grade will not be grounds for keeping the student on academic probation.
Students may register to audit courses. Instructors will determine requirements for auditing the course. A student may request permission from the instructor to change from audit status to credit status. This request must be made by the 12th week of classes. Students may register to audit a maximum of two courses per semester.
This grade indicates that the student withdrew from the course some time after the fourth class meeting.
When a student does not satisfactorily complete all of the required work for a course by the end of the semester, she or he may ask the instructor for a grade of Incomplete.
(AF) Administrative Failure
When a student misses a deadline for completion of assigned work without submitting an approved extension form, the student’s grade will be changed to an AF by the registrar. If the work is subsequently completed and the AF is changed to a grade of P, a written record of the circumstances of the grade change will be placed in the student’s file.
B. Policies for Incomplete Work
When students submit required work for a course on time, instructors are expected to submit grades and evaluations and to return written work with comments three weeks after work is submitted or three weeks after the last day of the semester, whichever comes last.
All required work for a course is due on the date designated by the instructor. If the dead- line cannot be met (or if the completed assignment is unsatisfactory), it is the responsibility of the student to meet with the instructor to explain why an extension is necessary. The instructor is not obligated to grant an extension. Extensions may be granted by the instructor for up to one year from the end of the semester in which the course was taken. The length of the extension appropriate under the circumstances will be determined by the instructor but is limited by leave policies and senior deadlines.
Students who do not complete required work on time and who obtain the consent of the instructor to receive a grade of Incomplete are required to submit an Incomplete extension form to the instructor; the form must be signed by the student and the instructor by the end of the semester. The instructor should then submit the extension form to the registrar with the evaluation form. If the student does not complete the work for a course and does not present to the instructor an extension form, the instructor (providing he or she is willing to grant an extension) will complete an extension form without the student’s signature by the date required.
All work in courses for which a student has received a grade of Incomplete must be completed no later than one year after the end of the course. The student and the instructor may agree to one of the following five dates for the submission of work: August 10, October 10, March 10, and the last day of each of the semesters. The instructor must then submit a grade and evaluation form and return the work submitted with comments within three weeks, i.e., on August 31, October 31, March 31, or three weeks after the end of each of the semesters. (Graduating seniors who miss the March 10 deadline must submit the work by the final date for submission of work by seniors.)
If a student does not submit work by the date agreed upon on the Incomplete extension form, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the instructor before the deadline for submission of work, and to submit a new Incomplete extension form with a new agreed-upon date (if the instructor agrees), signed by the student and the instructor, on or before the old deadline. If a student fails to comply with the rule to get an Incomplete deadline extended, the instructor is released from the obligation to submit grades and evaluations within three weeks.
If the assignment is not satisfactorily completed by the designated time, the student will receive a failing grade, and in the case of a requirement, must retake the course.
A non-senior student can carry no more than two incompletes. If a student has outstanding work in more than two classes, s/he may not attend classes in the program. (To attend classes, outstanding work must have been submitted but not necessarily yet evaluated.) If the student completes the overload by handing in the outstanding work after the start of the semester, s/he will only be allowed to enroll in those courses in which s/he has missed no more than two classes and may do so only with the permission of the instructor. Students notified within two weeks of handing in their outstanding work that their work is not passing will again be treated as having an incomplete unless s/her receives a grade of LP or F. If the student carries more than two incompletes, s/he will be barred from attending classes. If a student has more than two Incompletes at the start of the spring semester, she or he must petition the Faculty Executive Committee for permission to enroll in spring courses. The petition should include a proposed program for the completion of incomplete work and should normally include a proposal for a reduced course load during the spring semester.
All grades of Incomplete/AF must be removed and outstanding requirements in basic liturgy skills and shadowing must be completed before a student is permitted to begin the senior year of study. The deadline for completion of all work is August 10th. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to begin the senior year unless all outstanding work is completed before the first day of classes.
Students enrolled in the Contemporary Core must satisfactorily complete spring-semester requirements no later than one month before the date of graduation. Students are required to continue preparing for and attending class after the senior deadline for the submission of assignments.
C. Appeal of Grades
A student who believes that she or he has received unfairly a grade of LP or F may initiate an appeal by proceeding as follows:
- The student shall speak directly with the instructor and may request that a written record of that conversation be placed in his or her own student file. If the student chooses, a regular faculty member of the student’s choice or the vice president for student development may be invited to join that discussion.
- If the student and the instructor cannot come to an agreement, the student can appeal in writing to the vice president for academic affairs. After receiving the written appeal, the vice president for academic affairs shall set up a meeting to discuss the grievance among the student and the vice president for academic affairs, the vice president for student development and a regular faculty member of the student’s choice. The vice president for academic affairs, the vice president for student development and the faculty member chosen by the student shall then meet with the instructor. The three may choose to play a mediating role in resolving the dispute before they make a decision. If mediation proves unfruitful, the three shall investigate in a preliminary way to determine if there are reasonable grounds for an appeal. If a majority of the committee does not find reasonable grounds, the vice president for academic affairs shall so advise the student and the instructor in writing. If the instructor is the vice president for academic affairs or the vice president for student development, then the president shall appoint another member of the regular faculty to serve in his or her place.
- If mediation fails and the majority finds reasonable grounds for the appeal, then the three shall serve as an arbitration panel and shall conduct a thorough investigation, at the conclusion of which the student and the instructor shall be advised in writing of their binding decision.
- This appeal process, beginning with step (a), must be initiated no later than two months after receipt of the grade.
D. Academic Probation and Dismissal
Academic probation is considered a warning to students that they are in danger of becoming subject to dismissal unless their academic work improves.
A student may be placed on academic probation under any of the following circumstances:
- Receiving one F
- Receiving two LPs
- A faculty decision that the student’s academic performance warrants probation
If a grade of F or LP is subsequently changed or replaced as a result of the student’s additional work for the course, the student’s probationary status will be reviewed.
- Students are subject to academic dismissal under any of the following circumstances:
- Receiving two F’s from two instructors
- Receiving three LPs from more than one instructor and in more than one semester
- Persistent probationary status
- A faculty decision that the student’s academic performance warrants dismissal Although the above factors for academic probation and dismissal apply generally, each student’s academic performance and progress will be evaluated individually, and decisions about academic probation and dismissal will be made on an individual basis.
3. Non-Academic Evaluation
A. Feedback to Students
The faculty is interested in both the academic progress of students and students’ personal development as future rabbis. Thus the faculty is encouraged to discuss with the students not only course evaluations but also other information pertaining to their participation in the life of the RRC community. This discussion may then be written up for inclusion in the student’s file. Accordingly, faculty and staff members are encouraged to write for the student file reports of a student’s activities, both inside and outside of the College, so that the file more adequately reflects the whole person. All those aware of the student’s external work should encourage letters from employers and supervisors in locations where the student serves as an intern.
All such reports should first be discussed with the student, and the student should be provided with a copy of what is then written for the file. The student may choose to place a response in the file. If a student wants a particular item removed from the student file and the faculty member does not agree, the student can appeal to the vice president for student development to mediate; if mediation does not resolve the conflict, the student can appeal to the vice president for academic affairs for a final determination about whether the item should remain in the file.
B. RRA Guidelines
The faculty considers students bound by all Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA) guidelines for RRA members. Students who want to question any RRA guidelines should channel concerns directly to the RRA. Some RRA guidelines appear in the Appendix to the student handbook.
C. Non-Academic Probation, Suspension and/or Dismissal
The faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College reserves the right to dismiss a student at any time for cause.
Except in extraordinary cases, it will be the practice before dismissal to place the student on non-academic probation, for a period to be determined by the faculty, in which a supervisory faculty committee is appointed to work with the student about the faculty’s concerns. The student may choose to invite his or her faculty advisor to any or all of the student’s meetings with the supervisory faculty committee. When invited, the faculty advisor will attend without speaking. It should not be presumed that the faculty advisor will automatically advocate on the student’s behalf at subsequent faculty deliberations.
Extraordinary circumstances may warrant immediate expulsion. The faculty reserves the right to determine whether a period of non-academic probation is appropriate in any given situation. If the committee and the regular faculty believe that the concerns are remediable, the student may be suspended for a period of time, definite or indefinite, and given the option to apply for re-admission at the end of that period or when the concern has been adequately addressed.
When a student is placed on non-academic probation, the faculty will treat that fact as confidential.
When a student is dismissed on non-academic grounds, that fact will not be treated as confidential.
When a student is suspended on non-academic grounds, the faculty will decide whether to treat that as confidential on a case-by-case basis. (The decision about whether non-academic suspension is to be kept confidential is based on factors such as, and including, the following: the likelihood of the student doing harm to others in the RRC community; the message the College wants to deliver to the RRC community; the moral issues involved; and the potential damage to the reputation of RRC and to colleagues; and legal obligations/potential RRC liability.)
As part of the faculty’s final consideration of the suspension or dismissal of a student, a hearing will be held by an ad hoc committee approved by the regular faculty. The committee will include the president of the Reconstructionist Student Association or, if the RSA president can’t serve, another student designated by the RSA president. The committee shall be convened on a case-by-case basis as the situation warrants. The committee will make a recommendation to the regular faculty.
4. Student Review Procedures
Students are admitted to RRC with the understanding that the faculty will review the progress of each student in the spring semester of the Mekhinah, Biblical/Foundation 1, and Medieval years. The purpose of these reviews is to evaluate students in both academic and non¬academic ways, to offer positive and negative feedback and to determine the student’s eligibility to continue in the program. The review process is described in the student handbook.