St. Cloud State University Policies & Procedures

Grade Appeal Link☍

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Current Status: Approved

Policy Type: Academic

Department/Division: Academic Affairs

Effective Date: 01/07/2013

Last Updated: 06/19/2019

Applies To: Students, Faculty, Staff

Responsible University Officer: Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs

Policy Owner: Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs

Policy Contact: Office of Academic Affairs

Rationale

St. Cloud State University is committed to addressing student grading concerns fairly and expeditiously. Grade appeals can often be based upon misunderstandings between students and faculty. Thus, whenever possible, it is best to resolve them informally. It is important that anyone involved in a student complaint understands that the procedure is neither a judicial nor a disciplinary process.

Policy

Students have an expectation that their grades are determined fairly and honestly. Students also have right to question the procedure by which their grade was determined. Grade concerns and appeals should be addressed in a timely manner. Students will notify instructors as soon as possible, but within ten business (duty) days of the start of the next regular semester. 

Throughout this policy and procedure the term Student refers to a student who is appealing a final course grade, the term Instructor refers to the instructor of record whose grade is being contested, and Committee refers to the department grade appeal committee

Procedure

A student who considers a grade to have been determined improperly must arrange a meeting with the chair of the department/program in which the course is taught. If the grade appeal involves the chair of the department/program, someone else will be designated by the department to act in this capacity. The student should contact the Dean’s Office to determine who has been designated by the department for this role. The purpose of the meeting is to explain the steps, including the timeline involved in making a grade appeal. Every effort will be made to complete the grade appeal process, from the formal initiation to resolution at Step 2, within 30 business days, or within 45 business days if an appeal at Step 3 is also pursued.

Step 1. Informal Consultation with the Faculty Member

Within ten business days of the first day of instruction of the next fall or spring semester the student will communicate with the instructor via e-mail, telephone, or by arranging a meeting with the faculty member to fully explain their concern about their grade. If the instructor is not available for consultation because the instructor of the course is no longer employed by the university, this consultation must occur with the chair of the department. The faculty member may elect to respond to the student immediately or at a later time; however, the student must receive the faculty member’s written response within five duty days of the consultation about the complaint. If the faculty member's response is either not satisfactory to the student or is not made within the required time, the student has five business day to proceed to Step 2 and file all documents required to initiate a formal grade appeal if they choose. 

Step 2. Formal Grade Appeal

If the matter is not resolved through informal consultation, the student may file a Formal Grade Appeal by submitting a Grade Appeal Form to the Chair of the department/program in which the course is offered (download the PDF form, See Supporting Documents). The Formal Grade Appeal Form must be accompanied by all documentation that will serve as the basis of the grade appeal and must be submitted in electronic or paper format. At this time, the complaint is formally initiated and the 30-business day timeline to resolution is active. The Department Chair will have three duty days to verify that the student has consulted or attempted to consult the faculty member as required by Step 1, will sign, date and forward the Student Grade Appeal Form to the person(s) responsible for coordinating hearing grade appeals within the department, or someone designated by the department (Grade Appeal Coordinator). If the grade appeal concerns the Grade Appeal Coordinator, the Chair of the department will act as the responsible party for coordinating the grade appeal.

The Grade Appeal Coordinator will have three duty days to inform the faculty member against whom the grade appeal has been brought and will provide a copy of the Grade Appeal Form and a copy of all documentation to the faculty member. The faculty member in question will have five duty days to submit supporting documents or any other written response to the Grade Appeal Coordinator. This may be done by email or in paper format.

Within 8 duty days of receiving the faculty member’s response, the Grade Appeal Coordinator will arrange and conduct a hearing with the student and faculty member and the departmental faculty grade appeal committee. If the instructor in question is a member of the departmental faculty grade appeal committee, the instructor will withdraw from the committee and the remaining members may choose another member to replace the instructor for the hearing of the grade appeal. The intent of the hearing is to review the complaint and supporting documents, and to gather additional information to make a grade determination.

  1. If the contested grade is an "F” or a “U," the committee may let it stand or change it to "W," "U," or "S."
  2. If the contested grade is a passing grade, the committee may let it stand or change it to "S," meaning that the course would be counted toward graduation requirements but not be computed in the student's grade point average. To assign a grade of S during this process, the grade appeal committee must determine that the student’s work in the course is equivalent to a grade of C or better. They may also change it to a “W”. 

Within three duty days after the hearing, the Grade Appeal Coordinator will provide a copy of the Grade Appeal Form to both the student and faculty member that is signed by the members of the departmental grade appeal committee indicating the outcome of the appeal. A copy of the Grade Appeal Form must also be sent to the Registrar’s office if a grade change is determined.

It is the student’s responsibility to monitor the timelines related to the processing of their complaint. If the departmental grade appeal committee fails to hear the grade appeal within the required time limits, the student may notify the Provost’s office. The Provost (or designee) may extend the deadline for action and notify the student, faculty member and dean/director of the appropriate college/school to monitor the process to see that it occurs within the extended time limits.

Step 3. Request for Review of Formal Grade Appeal Decision.

A request for a Formal Grade Appeal Review may be made only for the following reasons:

  1. a procedural error which substantially affected the hearing's outcome;
  2. failure of the faculty committee to hear the appeal or to render a decision; or
  3. new or newly discovered information of a character which may have substantially affected the outcome.

If one or more of the above criteria are met, a student may request a review of the departmental grade appeal decision by completing Step 3 of the Grade Appeal Form and submitting it to the Provost (or designee) within 5 business days of the original departmental grade appeal decision. Within 5 business days of receiving the Step 3 Grade Appeal Form, the Provost (or designee) will make a determination about whether the request is valid. If there is not sufficient reason for further review, the decision of the departmental grade appeal committee is final and not appealable. The Provost (designee) will notify the student in writing of that determination.

If, however, such circumstances are found by the Provost (or designee) to exist, they will forward the request (Step 3 on the Grade Appeal Form) for a Formal Grade Appeal Review to the Faculty Association Academic Affairs Committee (FAAAC). A committee consisting of at least three members of the FAAAC will conduct a meeting to review the appeal. No member conducting the review shall be from the department of the grade appeal that is being reviewed. At the meeting with the FAAAC, both the student and faculty member may be accompanied by any consultant of their choosing. The participation of such persons shall be consistent with the process outlined in the Assisting Students with University Policy and Procedure (see Related SCSU Policies section). These consultants may not speak during the grade appeal review and are only present to provide support. Lawyers or legal representatives may not serve as consultants because this is not a legal proceeding.

The Provost (or designee) shall convene the committee and observe the proceedings. A member of the FAAAC shall chair the meeting. The meeting and report of the outcome of the appeal review will be concluded within 10 duty days of receiving the Step 3 Grade Appeal Form from the Provost (or designee).

Upon conclusion of the review, the chair of the FAAAC review group shall complete the Summary of the Committee Review on the Grade Appeal Form and shall notify the student and faculty member of the outcome, and in cases where a grade change is warranted, the Registrar’s office within 3 duty days.

  1. If the contested grade is an "F” or a “U," the FAAAC may let it stand or change it to "W," "U," or "S."
  2. If the contested grade is a passing grade, the FAAAC may let it stand or change it to "S," meaning that the course would be counted toward graduation requirements but not be computed in the student's grade point average. To assign a grade of S during this process, the FAAAC must determine that the student’s work in the course is equivalent to a grade of C or better. They may also change it to a “W”. 

The decision to the FAAAC is final, and is not appealable unless there is evidence that the review decision was arbitrary, capricious or improper. In such a case, the student or faculty member may provide written concerns to the Provost to address the matter. If the Provost (or designee) finds that the FAAAC’s decision was arbitrary, capricious or improper, they shall provide specific requirements to the FAAAC to address the concerns.

The assignment of grades is the exclusive prerogative of the faculty. Only the faculty member who assigned the grade, the departmental faculty committee, or the FAAAC as described in this process has the authority to change a grade.

Under extraordinary circumstances, the administration finds it necessary to change a grade directly (under the limits imposed in the procedure) because of the failure of the departmental grade appeal committee or the FAAAC to act, a written justification for such an action will be given to the faculty member, the chair of the department of the affected faculty member, the chair of the FAAAC and the President of the Faculty Association. Annually, all grades changed by the administration must be communicated to the Faculty Association through Meet and Confer.

Expedited Appeals and Reviews

Grade Appeals during summer sessions can have a significant impact on student progress. Additionally there may be other time constraints or restrictions that would warrant an expedited process. Faculty and students should make every effort to resolve issues at Step One, including the use of electronic media. If the faculty member for the class in question is unavailable a committee formed in collaboration with the colleagues within the school or department will collect information and attempt to resolve the grading concern at Steps One and Step Two. For grade appeals that move to Step Three the Faculty Association shall select at least three members of the FAAAC to meet and hear grade appeals following the usual practices of committee convening and selection.

Where possible electronic communication (e.g., conference phone calls, Skype, Adobe Connect, etc.) should be used to make sure the student and faculty member have every opportunity to work together to resolve the disputed grade. If deemed necessary by the Provost, a duty day can be paid to faculty who are not under contract to meet with the departmental or FAAAC committees. Resolution of the Grade Appeal should be within 7 business days. Any request to review the appeal at Step 3 shall also be processed within 7 business days.  

Guidelines

Rights and Responsibilities

Throughout this procedure, the following processes, rights and responsibilities apply: 

Student

  • The student has the responsibility to notify the instructor of the student’s concern regarding a final grade. Notification may be face to face, by telephone, by email, by mail, or as facilitated by the department chair (see Department section below).
  • The student has the responsibility to present documentation and complete required forms.
  • The student has the right to contact the Student Government Association Academic Affairs Committee to receive assistance and coaching in the grade appeal process.
  • The student has the right to be accompanied by any consultant of their choosing to any meeting of the Grade Appeal Policy process, including the student’s initial notification of the instructor.
  • The student has the right to speak to and to present evidence to the committee reviewing the grade appeal.
  • The student has the right to receive the committee’s written recommendation.

Instructor

  • The instructor has the responsibility to present documentation and evidence to the student during the grade appeal process. The instructor must be available for a meeting during office hours, or a mutually agreed upon time. The instructor will explain the grading process and the grade given to the student. The grading process must be explicitly stated in the course syllabus that was made available at the start of the course.
  • If invited by the committee, the instructor will meet with the committee. The instructor will explain the grades and grading process in question to the committee. The instructor has the responsibility to present documentation and provide evidence to the committee.
  • The instructor has the right to speak to and to present evidence to the committee regarding the grade appeal.
  • The instructor has the right to receive the committee’s written recommendation.
  • The instructor has the right to change the student’s grade at any point in this process, based on a review of the student’s performance or to correct clerical errors.
  • The instructor has the responsibility to maintain confidentiality.

Department

  • The department and/or chair has the right and responsibility to assist the student and instructor in reaching an informal resolution. To this end, the department or department chair may assist the student in notifying the instructor of the student’s concern. The chair may refer the student to the Student Government Association Academic Affairs Committee to receive assistance and coaching on the grade appeal process.
  • Early each fall semester, each department has the responsibility to establish a grade appeals committee and may adopt a departmental procedure for grade appeals that is within the general guidelines of this policy. A written copy of the departmental procedure will be given to any student who files a grade appeal. The departmental information sheet given to students will set forth the steps of a student grade appeals process.
  • The department has the responsibility to maintain confidentiality.

Committee

  • If the department has a separate procedure, the committee has the responsibility to follow both the guidelines/procedures of this policy and the department procedure. Departmental procedures cannot be in conflict with university policy and procedure.
  • The committee has the responsibility to generate a written response, with copies given to all involved persons and filed according to this policy and department policy.
  • The committee has the responsibility to maintain confidentiality.  

 

Keywords

change grade, contest grade, complain about grade, complaint about grades

Supporting Documents (Forms, Instructions)

May 1 2019 12:14PM
May 1 2019 12:14PM

Related St. Cloud State University Policies

Supporting URLs

Websites, Related External Documents, Statutes

Definitions

Business Day

A day when St. Cloud State University offices are open for business.

Calendar Day

All days of the month, including weekends and public or posted holidays.

Complaint

An oral or written claim concerning a college or university issue, including but not limited to alleging improper, unfair, or arbitrary treatment or program quality, compliance with accreditation standards, consumer fraud or deceptive trade practices.

Duty Day

A day included in the academic calendar or individual faculty member's appointment on which a faculty member engages in duties as described in their collective bargaining agreement.

Review Committee

A group of University professionals knowledgeable on health and student development issues and will usually include, but is not limited to a representative from Student Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Disability Services, and Academic Affairs.

Student

All Persons or group of persons who:

  1. Are enrolled in one or more courses, either credit or non-credit, through a college or university; or
  2. Withdraw, transfer, or graduate after an alleged violation of the code of student conduct; or
  3. Are not officially enrolled for a particular term but who have a continuing relationship with the college or university; or
  4. Have been notified of their acceptance for admission or have initiated the process of application for admission or financial aid; or
  5. Are not college or university employees and are not enrolled in the institution but live in a college or university owned or controlled residence hall.

University Department

Budgetary units of St. Cloud State University and affiliated organizations.

Contacts

Responsible University Officer
   Gregory, Daniel D.
   Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs
 
ddgregory@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-3143
Owner
   Gregory, Daniel D.
   Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs
 
ddgregory@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-3143
Contact
   Schwartzkopf, Lucie B.
   Office of Academic Affairs
 
lbschwartzko@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-3143

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