Grade Appeals Procedures

Academic Regulations (Section 10)

The grade appeal procedures represent the official policy for each faculty member. These procedures

A. Recognize the right of each student to receive a grade assigned upon a fair and unprejudiced evaluation based on a method that is not arbitrary or capricious.

B. Recognize the right of each student to review with the instructor all work used in the evaluation.

C. Provide any student who has evidence that a mistake has been made in calculating or recording his or her grade or that his or her grade has been assigned based on arbitrary or capricious deviation from the instructor's stated grading policy the opportunity to seek redress.

D. Recognize the instructor's right to assign a grade based on any method that is professionally acceptable, submitted in writing to everyone in the class, and applied equally to all members of the class.

An appeal of a grade shall progress as follows:

Step One

The student must consult with the course instructor in an attempt to understand the instructor's justification for the grade and to resolve the disagreement in an informal, cooperative atmosphere. For fall semester grades, this consultation must occur by the end of the fifteenth class day of the succeeding spring semester. For spring and summer semester grades, the consultation must occur by the end of the fifteenth class day of the succeeding fall semester. Only if the instructor is on leave or no longer employed by the university may the student begin with Step Two.

The student should be aware that the only valid basis for grade appeal beyond Step One is to establish that an instructor assigned a grade in a manner not in accordance with university policy. (See items C and D above.)

Step Two

If a resolution is not reached in Step One, the student may proceed to Step Two. Within five business days after consulting with the instructor, the student shall present the complaint in writing to the chair of the department in which the grade was assigned. The written appeal shall state the student's specific request (e.g., to change a final grade from F to C) and the grounds for the request. Supporting evidence such as the course syllabus, policy sheet, and copies of graded assignments (when available) shall be included with the written appeal. The departmental chair should ensure that the requirements of Step One have been satisfied prior to acting on the appeal. Within seven business days after receiving the appeal and supporting evidence, the departmental chair shall meet jointly with the student and the instructor in an attempt to resolve the dispute. The chair may also consult separately with the student and the instructor. If, in the opinion of the chair, the student's appeal lacks merit, the chair shall so notify the student and the instructor in writing within three business days after the chair's joint consultation with the student and the instructor. If, in the opinion of the chair, the instructor assigned the grade in a manner not in accordance with university policy (see items C and D above), the chair shall recommend to the instructor in writing that the grade be changed. The recommendation from the chair shall be made within three business days after the joint consultation with the student and the instructor. The instructor shall, within three business days after receiving the chair's recommendation, provide a written response to the chair. Within three business days after receiving the instructor's written response, the chair shall communicate the status of the appeal to the student and the instructor.

Step Three

If the appeal is not resolved in Step Two, the student may, within five business days after receiving the notification from the departmental chair, appeal to the dean of the college in which the course is taught. The dean shall notify in writing the chair and the instructor that an appeal has been made to the dean's level. All documents submitted in Step Two, together with additional written statements from the student, the instructor, and the chair regarding the appeal as each sees it shall be transmitted to the dean. Within seven business days after receiving the appeal and supporting evidence, the dean shall meet in joint consultation with the student, the instructor, and the chair. The dean may also consult separately with the student, the instructor, and the chair. If the chair and the dean concur that the student's request lacks merit, the appeal ends and the student has no further recourse under these procedures. The dean shall so inform the student, the instructor, and the chair in writing within three business days after the joint consultation with the student, the instructor, and the chair. If, in the opinion of the dean, the instructor assigned the grade in a manner not in accordance with university policy (see items C and D above), the dean shall recommend to the instructor in writing that the grade be changed. The recommendation from the dean shall be made within three business days after the joint consultation with the student, the instructor, and the chair. The instructor shall, within three business days after receiving the dean's recommendation, provide a written response to the dean. Within three business days after receiving the instructor's decision, the dean shall communicate the status of the appeal to the student, the instructor, and the chair.

Step Four

If the appeal is not resolved or dismissed in Step Three, the student may appeal to the vice president for academic affairs. The appeal shall be made within five business days after the student receives notification from the dean in Step Three. The vice president shall notify the instructor, the chair, and the dean of the appeal. All documents submitted in Step Three shall be forwarded to the vice president. Within seven business days after receiving the supporting documents, the vice president shall meet in joint consultation with the student, the instructor, the chair, and the dean. The vice president may also consult separately with the student, the instructor, the chair, and the dean. If, after reviewing the appeal and consulting with the parties involved, the vice president determines that the student's appeal lacks merit, and if this opinion is in concurrence with at least one of the two administrators who previously heard the appeal, the appeal ends and the student has no further recourse under these procedures. The student, the instructor, the chair, and the dean shall be so informed in writing within three business days after the joint consultation with the parties involved. If the vice president determines that the student's appeal lacks merit, and if this opinion differs from that of both administrators who previously heard the appeal, the vice president shall recommend to the president of the university that the appeal be submitted to the chair of the Academic Council, who will form a Grade Appeal Committee to address the case. (See Step Five) The student, the instructor, the chair, and the dean shall be so informed in writing within five business days after the joint consultation with the parties involved. If, in the opinion of the vice president, the instructor assigned the grade in a manner not in accordance with university policy (see items C and D above), the vice president shall recommend to the instructor in writing that the grade be changed. The recommendation from the vice president shall be made within three business days after the joint consultation with the student, the instructor, the chair, and the dean. The instructor shall, within three business days after receiving the vice president's recommendation, provide a written response to the vice president. Within five business days after receiving the instructor's response, the vice president shall communicate in writing the status of the appeal to the student, the instructor, the chair, and the dean. If the appeal is not resolved, the vice president shall recommend to the president of the university that the appeal be submitted to the chair of the Academic Council, who will appoint a Grade Appeal Committee to address the case. (See Step Five.)

Step Five

If the president refers the appeal to the chair of the Academic Council, he or she shall do so within three business days after receiving the recommendation from the vice president. The chair of the Academic Council shall appoint a Grade Appeal Committee. This committee shall be composed of three members of the Academic Council not in the same department as the instructor involved in the grade appeal and two members of the Academic Council from the instructor's department. If there are fewer than two representatives on the Academic Council from the instructor's department, then the chair of the Academic Council shall appoint a faculty member or members from the department represented by the instructor involved in the appeal. If the appeal involves the chair of the Academic Council, then the chair of the Administrative Council shall appoint the committee and serve as its chair; otherwise, the chair of the Academic Council also chairs the Grade Appeal Committee. The members of the committee should meet the approval of both the instructor and the student. If an adequate number of acceptable committee members cannot be found, the vice president for academic affairs shall appoint the committee. The chair of the Grade Appeal Committee shall notify the student, the instructor, the departmental chair, the dean, and the vice president for academic affairs that the appeal has been referred to the Grade Appeal Committee. All materials from Step Four shall be forwarded to committee members. The committee shall meet within seven business days after the chair of the Academic Council receives the appeal request and supporting evidence. At the appeal of the grade before the Grade Appeal Committee, only the student, faculty members and administrators involved at each step of the appeal are allowed to be present, except in the case where a disability which would prevent the student, faculty members or administrators from participating in the appeal process without assistance is appropriately documented.  The instructor and the student shall be allowed to present their positions to the committee. If the committee determines that the appeal lacks merit, the appeal ends and the student has no further recourse under these procedures. The chair of the committee shall notify in writing the student, the instructor, the departmental chair, the dean, and the vice president of the committee's decision. If the committee determines that the instructor assigned the grade in a manner not in accordance with university policy (see items C and D above), the committee shall either approve the student's request or modify it in accordance with the committee's findings. The committee chair shall notify the instructor in writing of the committee's decision within three business days. The instructor shall then have seven business days to respond to the committee's decision. If the committee's decision is that the student's grade should be changed and the instructor agrees to change the grade, he or she shall complete a Change of Grade Form and submit it to the Records Office. If the instructor declines to change the grade, the chair of the Grade Appeal Committee shall communicate the committee's decision and the instructor's response to the president of the university, who shall, if he or she concurs with the decision of the Grade Appeal Committee, notify the Records Office that the grade is to be changed. The chair of the Grade Appeal Committee shall notify in writing the student, the instructor, the departmental chair, the dean, and the vice president for academic affairs of the disposition of the appeal.

If the instructor involved in a grade appeal is a departmental chair or dean, the student may, after fully complying with Step One, submit his or her written appeal directly to the vice president for academic affairs. The vice president shall appoint an administrator to perform the grade appeal duties of the departmental chair or dean, as appropriate, and the appeal shall follow the normal procedures.

When a student appeals a grade, the burden of proof rests with the student. All documents relevant to the appeal shall be filed in the office of the department involved in the grade appeal. Failure on the student's part to complete any step of the procedure within the specified time periods shall result in the termination of the appeal and the student shall have no further recourse under these procedures.

Correspondence with the student and the instructor involved in a grade appeal shall be delivered by certified mail.

[Approved by the General Faculty April 30, 1997.  Step 5, bold section, approved by Academic Council January 23, 2008]