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3.17.5 – Course Grade Appeals

Part 1: Policy Statement

Lake Superior College recognizes that the individual classroom instructor is the authority in evaluating student performance in his/her courses. Notwithstanding, this right brings with it a responsibility to provide students with a clear statement of course grading policies and to fairly and consistently apply these policies. It is the student’s right to receive from an instructor an explanation for any grade received.

While recognizing the rights and responsibilities of the instructor, in extraordinary circumstances, students have the right to appeal for a grade review where they believe that a final course grade was assigned unfairly or in a manner inconsistent with the stated course grading policy.  The following three categories are the only legitimate basis for a grade appeal at LSC:

    1. Arbitrariness: The course grade awarded represents such a substantial departure from accepted academic norms as to demonstrate that the instructor did not actually exercise professional judgment.
    2. Bias: The grade awarded was motivated by ill will and is not indicative of the student’s academic performance in the course.
    3. Error: The instructor made a mistake in fact (e.g., a calculation error or omission) (including failure to notify or adhere to grading policies).

Part 2: Objective. Students will be provided a process by which to appeal grades received. This procedure’s objective is to resolve student concerns as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Part 3: Informal Appeal Process. The student must contact the instructor who assigned the grade in question either in person or via email within ten (10) working days from the date the grade was posted.  The instructor shall provide a response to the student via email within ten (10) working days of being contacted by the student. The instructor should process an official grade change if deemed appropriate.  If the student has not been contacted by the instructor within ten working days, s/he should contact the applicable academic dean.

Part 4: Formal Appeal Process. If, after consultation with the instructor in a good-faith effort to resolve a grade dispute, a student still believes that his/her course grade was assigned in a way that is arbitrary, biased, or in error or that the instructor failed to notify or adhere to grading policies, the student may make a formal grade appeal no later than ten (10) work working days after receiving a response from the instructor through the informal process.

Subpart A: Process Step 1. A written appeal will be submitted by the student to the instructor of the class using the Step 1 Grade Appeal Form. The appeal is a formal request to the course instructor that the student’s specific concerns about the grade be completely addressed. The student must complete the Step 1 Grade Appeal Form, which requests the following:

    1. Identification of the course, section, instructor’s name, and grade received.
    2. A statement verifying that the student has sought an informal remedy by speaking with or otherwise contacting the instructor.
    3. A justification for the request review; i.e., a statement of reasons as to why the student believes his/her grade was improperly assigned.
    4. Relevant information and documentation that supports the appeal (e.g., course papers, syllabus, class notes, etc., that support the justification).
    5. Any additional items that the student deems relevant to his/her appeal.
    6. The remedy sought.

The Step 1 Grade Appeal Form is submitted to the instructor of the course grade being appealed.  The appeal will be logged and forwarded to the instructor.  The student should retain a copy of these materials for his/her records.  Within two weeks, unless the instructor speaks to his/her dean or VP of Academic and Student Affairs and requests additional time for a response, the instructor will respond to the student in writing.  The instructor’s response must include:

    1. A reply to the justification given by the student in his/her formal grade appeal.
    2. A reply to the student’s desired remedy, including a summary statement indication:
      1. The instructor has determined that a grade change is not warranted
      2. The instructor has determined that a grade change is warranted. A statement of the new grade to be assigned to the student followed by submission of an official grade change.
      3. An alternative proposed remedy.

Subpart B: Process Step 2

If the student is not satisfied with the response to his/her Step 1 Grade Appeal, s/he can submit a Step 2 Grade Appeal Form to the faculty member’s dean to include the following:

    1. Identification of the course, section, instructor’s name, and grade received.
    2. Copies of all materials submitted to the instructor in Step 1.
    3. A justification for the requested review; i.e., a statement of reasons as to why the student believes the instructor’s reply to the Step 1 Appeal is incorrect.
    4. Relevant information and documentation that supports the appeal.
    5. The remedy sought.

The dean will meet with the faculty member to discuss the student’s appeal and will, within ten (10) working days, notify the student (and copy the faculty member) of the decision regarding the Step 2 appeal and discussion.

Subpart C: Process Step 3. The student may, if he/she still believes that a grade has been inappropriately given, file a Step 3 Grade Appeal Form with the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs.  Upon receipt of the form, the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs shall convene a Faculty Advisory Panel which shall consist of three administrators and/or supervisors appointed by the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. The Panel will review the materials submitted by the student to include the instructor’s response to the Step 1 Grade Appeal, and, if deemed appropriate, the student.  The Panel will then meet with the faculty member and will discuss the issues as presented by the student and all documented material.  Upon receiving the advice of the panel members the faculty member whose grading has been challenged will determine whether or not to make the grade change and will communicate that final decision to the student, to his/her dean and to the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs.

Date Implemented: November, 2008

Date Updated: March 7, 2014