How L&S Departments Should Approach Student Grade Appeals

All L&S Departments are encouraged to establish procedures for considering student appeals of grades. This document provides guidance about factors to consider in setting up those procedures.

The L&S Academic Planning Council advises all departments to have in place a process for dealing with questions and concerns of students who ask about appealing 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.

Following are some of the considerations departments might want to keep in mind:
It may be prudent for departments to have some discussion before being faced with an actual appeal about instructors' responsiveness to an appeal body's recommendation that a grade be changed. Departments should communicate with all members of the instructional staff who have grading responsibility (including visitors and lecturers) about procedures and expectations in this complex area. In the rare case when the dispute cannot be settled in the department, the Associate Dean for that Division (e.g., humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences) determines the final outcome.

It is everyone's hope that grade appeals will be infrequent, and that they can be handled by explanation and communication at the departmental level. A chair who is confronted with a potentially difficult situation may want to consult with the appropriate academic Associate Dean or General Deans' Staff members from Student Academic Affairs (for undergraduate student issues). In any event, since Student Academic Affairs approves changes only in the case of clerical or computational error, a special notification will be required in the case of a grade change resulting from an appeal.

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