L&S Policy and Procedures for Grade Appeal

This document explains the policy and procedures for students to appeal a grade they have received in an L&S course.

Policy: Students have the right to appeal a semester grade if they believe that grade to be either incorrect or inequitable when compared to the standard grading policy in the syllabus for all students taking the same course.

Students cannot (should not) petition to improve a course grade by offering to rewrite a paper, turn in additional work, or retake a final exam. The only exception would be if:

  1. The option to improve a grade is available to all students in a given course, and
  2. The option to improve a grade is stated explicitly in the course syllabus.

Grade appeal process for students

A student wishing to appeal their grade must follow the process in the order listed below within the semester/term immediately following the term in which the course is taken.

  1. The student will first discuss the grade appeal with the instructor of the course.
  2. If the student and instructor do not come to an agreement, the student will provide a formal written grade appeal to the chair of the department. The written appeal must include: the class, instructor, copy of the course syllabus showing grading guidelines, grade received, date and conclusion of meeting with instructor, the specific reason(s) for appealing the grade, and email address and telephone number where they can be reached for follow-up. The documentation must demonstrate how the student was either incorrectly graded for the work they did or treated in a way that was inconsistent with the standard grading policy/practice for all students taking the same course.
  3. The chair of the department will follow the department’s grade appeals process.  When a decision is made the chair will notify the student in writing of the decision. In the absence of a specific departmental process, the chair will be the reviewer and decision maker.
  4. If the department’s appeal process supports the original decision, the student may make a formal written appeal to L&S Associate Dean for Teaching & Learning Administration. The decision of the Associate Dean for TLA is final.

Guidance to departments about their policy and procedures

Each department within Letters & Science should have a standard procedure for reviewing disputed grades.  This process should preserve the integrity of an instructor's grade and prevent excessive pressure on the instructor, while still allowing for the appeal of an alleged injustice.

The different types of departmental appeals structures that may be possible are:

  1. the department chair;
  2. a small group of members of the executive committee, with or without the Chair as a member;
  3. a standing committee of the department (e.g., a curriculum committee or an appeals committee); or
  4. the entire executive committee.

Departments should talk about and plan for grade appeals before being faced with an actual appeal. In general,

  • Instructors should only change a student's final grade if there has been some error in tabulating that course grade, or an inconsistency with respect to the grading standards articulated in the course syllabus for all students.
  • To maintain fairness in the grading process, instructors should not take into consideration a student's past performance in previous classes or the amount of energy a student has put into mastering a subject matter to alter a student's grade for a course.  
  • Departments should communicate with all members of the instructional staff who have grading responsibility (including visitors and short term teaching staff) about procedures and expectations in this complex area.
  • Students should be informed of the appeal policy and procedure (e.g., posting a notice of the procedure on a departmental bulletin board or providing notice in written materials, in student handbooks, or in the policy area of a departmental website).
  • However the department structures its approach, the hearing body should request relevant information from the instructor in response to the complaint, including grading criteria and the reason for denying the student's request.

A chair who is confronted with a potentially difficult situation is encouraged to  consult with their Academic Associate Dean, Associate Dean for Teaching & Learning, or with the L&S Undergraduate Academic Deans' Office (for undergraduate student issues).

For instructions on submitting an approved change to an undergraduate's semester/term grade for L&S courses, please refer to the following KB: L&S Grade Change Process for Undergraduates

If you have questions, please reach out to teach.learn@ls.wisc.edu.

KeywordsPolicy, grading, procedures for grade appeals, working with student grade changes, changing official grade   Doc ID22258
OwnerCathy Y.GroupL&S KB
Created2012-01-13 16:46:18Updated2023-07-05 14:50:43
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