Grade Appeals Policy

Academic grading reflects careful and deliberate judgment by a faculty member instructing a course. Academic evaluation of student performance requires expert consideration of cumulative information. Such decision-making, by its nature, is judgmental and evaluative. The evaluative process is not and should not be likened to the adversarial process involved in disciplinary matters, for academic grade determination is not adaptable to the methods of judicial or administrative decision-making. The education process, moreover, is not by nature adversarial, but rather centers upon a continuing relationship between faculty and student. Administrative interposition, except in the most extreme instances, is to be avoided. The University recognizes that in rare instances there may be errors, or "palpable injustice(s)" in determination of a final grade. A student alleging such error or palpable injustice, i.e. a clear showing of arbitrary or capricious action, may appeal as provided below:

For the appeal to be considered, the following procedure must be followed and the following deadlines must be met:

  1. First step: meeting with the instructor. First, the student must meet with the instructor by the end of the second week of classes of the full semester following the semester in which the grade was awarded. Either the student or the faculty member may request that the initial meeting occurs in the presence of the department chair. If no meeting with the instructor occurred, the student should provide a statement as to why a meeting did not occur with the instructor within the two-week time limit.

    Special case: cannot meet with the instructor because the instructor is deceased or has left the University and cannot be contacted . In the event that the instructor is deceased or has left the University and cannot be contacted, the student should meet directly with the department chairperson by the end of the second week of classes of the full semester following the semester in which the disputed grade was given. Upon evidence of error, the chairperson may make the appropriate grade change after consultation with and approval of the dean of the school. The instructor shall be notified of the change if notice subsequently can be delivered. The chairperson shall make a determination and provide written notification to the student within two weeks of receiving the appeal. Upon evidence of palpable injustice, the chairperson may make the appropriate grade change after consultation with and approval of the dean of the school. Written notification of the decision shall be made to the student within two weeks of receiving the appeal.

  2. Second step: submit the appeal in writing to the department chairperson.
    1. If no resolution is achieved between the student and the instructor, the student must submit the appeal in writing to the department chairperson before the end of the fourth week of classes of the full semester following the semester in which the grade was awarded.
    2. The student's written appeal must be in hard copy, and must include
      • An inventory list of materials provided or Table of Contents;
      • A completed Appeal for Grade Change form;
      • A course syllabus (preferably the one provided to the student at the beginning of the course);
      • A detailed statement explaining why the student believes his/her grade should be changed; the statement must include, at a minimum:
      • a list of the student’s grades in the course;
      • a list of changes that should be made to those grades, with explanations;
      • an explanation of why those changes would necessitate a change in the course grade;
      • all documents that are necessary to support the student’s position (graded homework assignments, graded examinations, medical documentation, statements from other students or faculty, etc.); if some of the student’s work has not been returned to the student by the instructor, the student should include a list of documents that have not been returned to him/her.

        In the event that statements are provided by other persons than the student seeking the appeal and the faculty member providing the grade, the contact information for each person should be provided so the Grade Appeals Review Board may verify, if it wishes, the statements included. Students should understand that the burden of proof is upon them to make the case that a "palpable injustice" or bias has occurred, and so the student should seek to make as strong a case as possible by including supporting documents to claims made.

        The student should make sure that the written appeal is clear and complete, as he/she will not have the opportunity to supplement an appeal once it has been filed, except to respond to a request from the Grade Appeals Review Board. Also, the student should be aware that materials submitted will not be returned to him/her; therefore, he/she should keep copies of all materials.

    3. The department chairperson must provide the student and instructor with a written recommendation within two weeks of receiving an appeal. A grade change shall be made only with the written consent of the instructor and the department chairperson, except as noted above in the case of an instructor who has died or has left university employment and cannot be contacted.
    4. If the department chairperson finds that the appeal has merit, but the instructor disagrees, then the chairperson shall automatically forward the appeal (including all supporting documentation and a copy of the chairperson’s recommendation) to the dean, within three business days.
  3. Third step: appeal to the Dean.
    1. If the department chairperson upholds the instructor’s grade, and the student wishes to further pursue the appeal, the student must inform the department chairperson of his/her intention to pursue the appeal within one week of receiving the chairperson’s written recommendation. In that case, the chairperson shall forward the written appeal (including all supporting documentation and a copy of the chairperson’s recommendation) to the dean, within three business days.
    2. The dean should provide the student, instructor, and chairperson with a written recommendation within two weeks of receiving an appeal. A grade change shall be made only with the written consent of the instructor and the department chairperson, except as noted above in the case of death of an instructor who has died or has left university employment and cannot be contacted.
    3. If the dean finds that the appeal has merit, but the instructor or department chairperson disagrees, then the dean shall automatically forward five copies of the appeal (including all supporting documentation and a copy of the chairperson’s and dean’s recommendations) to the Chair of the Grade Appeals Review Board, within three business days.
  4. Fourth step: appeal to the Grade Appeals Review Board
    1. If the dean upholds the instructor’s grade, and the student wishes to further pursue the appeal, the student must inform the dean of his/her intention to pursue the appeal within two weeks of receiving the dean’s written recommendation.
    2. If the student chooses to pursue the appeal, the dean shall forward five copies of the written appeal, (including all supporting documentation and a copy of the chairperson’s and dean’s recommendations) to the Chair of the Grade Appeals Review Board, within three business days.
  5. Final step: consideration of the appeal by the Grade Appeals Review Board
    1. Any appeal after the completion of the steps above shall be made to the Grade Appeals Review Board, which functions under the aegis of the Academic Standards Committee. After receiving an appeal, the Grade Appeals Review Board may engage in a number of actions.
    2. Following an investigation, the Grade Appeals Review Board may deny the appeal, in which case the matter shall be closed.
    3. If the Grade Appeals Review Board makes a finding that the grading involved a palpable injustice, the case shall be remanded to the instructor and the dean of the instructor's school for reconsideration. The instructor may make the appropriate change in the grade with the written agreement of the dean. The dean will notify the Grade Appeals Review Board of the response taken. If the instructor disagrees or if the instructor's whereabouts are unknown, the Grade Appeals Review Board may recommend a grade change to the Provost. The Provost may make the appropriate grade change or issue a "W" (withdrawal). The instructor, the department chairperson, and the dean shall be notified in writing of the Grade Appeals Review Board’s recommendation and of the Provost’s decision.
    4. The Grade Appeals Review Board will endeavor to resolve all cases within the semester in which they are filed. When this is not possible, the chairperson of the Grade Appeals Review Board shall provide the Provost, as well as the student, with written notification.
    5. In no case shall a grade be lowered as a result of the appeal to the Grade Appeals Review Board.
  6. Student Rights and Responsibilities:
    1. Students shall receive timely notification during all steps of the appeals process.
    2. When appealing a grade, students must provide a full written account, attaching all corresponding documentation outlined in item 2. Students will not have the opportunity to supplement an appeal once it has been filed, except to respond to a request from the Grade Appeals Review Board.
  7. Faculty and Administration's Rights and Responsibilities:
    1. The Grade Appeals Review Board shall notify faculty, chairpersons, and deans in writing of any Review Board actions and requests.
        • Faculty shall retain all graded student work that has not been returned to the student, until the end of the following regular academic semester. In no case shall faculty discard the graded work of a student who has filed an appeal.
        • Faculty shall provide the chairperson, dean and/or Grade Appeals Review Board with graded student work, a syllabus, or any other documents that may be needed to evaluate the merits of the appeal.
        • Faculty should endeavour to meet with a student who has questions about his/her grade as early as possible in the next semester; preferably, before the add/drop deadline