VI. Grade Disputes

Members of the faculty will respect the right of any student to dispute a final grade. The student shall initiate a grade dispute procedure with the instructor no later than March 1st for fall grades and October 1st for spring and summer grades. In the absence of the instructor, the student may contact the instructor’s Department Chairperson. If the instructor is not available, the Department Chair will utilize the grades and records left on file by the instructor.

The following procedure is established to resolve grade disputes. While Stages 2 and 3 of this procedure are available to students in all such cases, it is assumed that most, if not all, grade disputes will be resolved at Stage 1. The original grade will not be adjusted downward at any stage of these proceedings.

A. Stage 1 – Instructor/Student Conference

  1. A student disputing a final grade shall request a conference with his/her instructor and shall bring to that conference all exams, papers, assignments and other material pertinent to that discussion. 
  2. The instructor shall be prepared at this conference to explain the way in which the final grade was determined, and such explanation shall include, though not necessarily be limited to, the following:
    • The instructor’s grading policy as it was previously presented to the class under the provisions of the Academic Rules, Sec.V.A.; 
    • Records that support the determination of the student’s final grade within the context of the instructor’s policy to the extent that they do not violate the privacy of other students in the class.
  3. In the event that no resolution can be reached at this conference, the instructor shall refer the student to the Department Chairperson who shall inform the student of the rules governing Stage 2 and Stage 3 of this procedure. If the Chairperson is also the student’s instructor, that Chairperson shall refer the student to the Chief Academic Administrator who will appoint another department member to administer the completion of Stage 2 in the capacity of the Chairperson.

B. Stage 2 – Ad Hoc Faculty Committee

  1. The student shall prepare a written statement of what is being challenged and why. This statement is to contain evidence supporting the student’s challenge other than simple dissatisfaction with a low grade. This statement shall be submitted to the instructor’s Department Chairperson no later than March 15th for fall grades and October 15th for spring and summer grades. The Chairperson may accept a statement submitted after that time if in his/her opinion there were extenuating circumstances.
  2. The Chairperson will appoint an ad hoc committee to review the student’s challenge and the instructor’s response. In order to accommodate varying departmental circumstances, the exact membership of this committee may vary from department to department, but in all cases the following criteria shall apply:
    • Three faculty members will serve on this committee, and one of them will be chosen chairperson by the committee. The ad hoc committee will be composed of members of the department unless the department is too small for this to be possible. In the case of small departments, non-department members will be asked to serve on this committee. The choice of non-department members will be made on the basis of their closeness to the discipline involved in the dispute. If that is not possible, faculty members who will be impartial third parties to the dispute will be selected to serve on the ad hoc committee.
    • Both the student and instructor involved in the dispute should be present at the Stage 2 hearing. Both parties should present written statements to the committee chairperson at least one week prior to the scheduled hearing for review by the ad hoc committee, student and instructor.
    • The student and/or instructor may each choose one member of the campus community to be an advocate to assist in the presentation of his/her case. An advocate is not a member of the committee.
    • A committee member is appointed by the chair of the committee to record minutes of the proceedings. 
  3. While it is understood that the burden of proof rests with the student, the instructor shall make available to the committee those materials used in explaining the grade assignment to the student at Stage 1 (VI.A.) 
  4. The ad hoc committee may either reject the student’s appeal or recommend that the instructor change the grade. In either case, a written report containing the recommendation shall be given to the student, the instructor, and the Department Chairperson. If a grade change is recommended and the instructor declines, such refusal shall be explained in a written statement that must be given to the student, the ad hoc committee and the Department Chairperson.

C. Stage 3 – Final Appeal

An appeal of the Stage 2 decision is considered only if the student or instructor presents new information. The information must be presented to the Chief Academic Administrator who determines if a Stage 3 hearing is warranted. If a new hearing is warranted, the dispute proceeds to Stage 3 of this procedure. All documents used in Stage 2 are forwarded to the Chief Academic Administrator, who schedules a hearing with the student, instructor and advocates, if any. After hearing this case, the Chief Academic Administrator informs the student, instructor and the committee of his/her decision in writing, and notifies the Office of Registration and Records if a grade change is to be made. The decision of the Chief Academic Administrator is final.