Mar 21, 2023  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Grade Appeal Policy

Grade Review Policy

If a student disagrees with the evaluation of his/her work by the instructor but has no basis for a charge of “discrimination” or “capricious evaluation” or “error,” the student should discuss the matter directly with the instructor, and if unsatisfied, with the department chairperson, and if still unsatisfied, with the dean of the college in which the course was offered. In such cases, the decision of the instructor shall be final.

If a student believes that an improper grade has been assigned, an appeal may be filed on the following grounds:

  1. Discrimination: On the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, age, ancestry, handicapped status, affectional or lifestyle preference, or political affiliation.
  2. Capricious Evaluation: Significant and unwarranted deviation from grading procedures and course outlines set at the beginning of the course (ordinarily in a written statement during the first week of the course) or grade assigned arbitrarily on the basis of whim or impulse. The student may not claim capriciousness if he or she disagrees with the subjective professional evaluation of the instructor.
  3. Error: Demonstrable, objective determination that a mathematical or clerical error resulted in the entry of an incorrect grade.

Procedures of Appeal

Level I: Informal Resolution

Every effort should be made to resolve the disagreement at Level I. The student must first seek a resolution to the disagreement with the instructor either in person or in writing. If the student is not satisfied with the results, the student must then speak with the chairperson of the department that offers the course. If still unsatisfied, the student must discuss the matter with the dean of the college in which the course is offered. A member of the Graduate Student Assembly may accompany and advise the student during the Level I procedures. Only after all attempts for resolution at Level I have been exhausted may the student initiate Level II.

Level II: Appeal Screening

  1. Composition: Each year there shall be appointed a Grade Appeals Committee to determine the existence of the substantive basis for appeal. The committee will be composed of seven voting members: three faculty members appointed by APSCUF, two members elected by and from the Senate University-Wide Graduate Committee (one faculty member and one student), the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research or his or her designee, and one student appointed by the Graduate Student Assembly. A quorum consists of a majority of the committee. To take action, a majority of those present must be faculty members. If a quorum of the Level II committee is not available to meet within the designated time limits, the Provost’s Office will seek additional members from the appointing bodies. If these bodies are unable to respond in a timely manner, the Provost’s Office may select additional members from the appropriate groups.
  2. Procedure to Initiate Appeal: To initiate Level II of the appeal, the student must file an appeal form with the Provost’s Office. This form must be filed within sixty (60) calendar days of the beginning of the semester immediately following the semester in which the grade was received. The Provost’s Office may extend the sixty-day limit only in unusual circumstances when equity demands it and when the student’s own procrastination or misunderstanding did not substantially contribute to the delay. (Note: Grade appeals will not generally be processed during the summer. Therefore, the appeal of any grade received in the spring or summer sessions normally will be processed in the fall. A review will be scheduled in the summer only when the student’s academic eligibility is jeopardized by the grade in question or when the student is preparing to graduate.) The Provost’s Office will notify the appropriate dean, department chairperson, faculty member, and the president of the Graduate Student Assembly of the student’s initiation of the Level II process.
  3. Procedure to Process Appeal: The student will be expected to submit written documentation of his/her complaint, and the faculty member will be expected to submit in writing the course grading procedure and any other pertinent information. Appeals based on discrimination will be reviewed according to current standards of nondiscriminatory action. Appeals based on capriciousness will be reviewed in light of the faculty member’s announced evaluation and grading system. The committee will review the materials to deny or confirm appeal continuance. Denial of appeal continuance must be by a negative vote of four members of the committee. This committee will inform the Provost’s Office of its findings. Within five (5) class days of the receipt of the committee’s report, the provost or designee will notify the student and the faculty member of the findings. If the basis for appeal is determined to be substantive, the provost or designee will schedule a Grade Review Panel within fifteen (15) class days to be convened prior to the conclusion of the semester.

Level III: Appeal Review

  1. Composition: The Grade Review Panel will consist of five voting members: the dean’s designee (from the School of Graduate Studies and Research) and four faculty members. The Graduate Student Assembly Executive Committee designee may advise as requested by the student. The affirmative action officer will advise in appeals based on discrimination. The panel will be constituted from the Grade Review Pool by random selection. The panel chairperson will be elected by and from the panel before each review.
  2. Membership: The Grade Review Pool will be established in the spring term to serve for the following academic year. Using random selection methods, the pool and rotational order within the pool will be established by the Provost’s Office. A pool of three deans or associate deans and twelve full-time faculty members will be maintained. In establishing the membership for each review panel, prior to each review the names of those designated as primary members of the specific panel and available as alternates will be supplied to all parties involved. A panel member may request (to the provost or designee) disqualification due to a conflict of interest. The student and the faculty member may eliminate names in proportion to the composition of the panel. Each may eliminate only one dean/associate dean and four faculty members. The instructor and the student will be supplied a list of all primary and secondary pool members. The opportunity to disqualify panel members will take place only once. Resulting vacancies will be filled from the appropriate pool of alternates so that the panel will be composed of one dean/associate dean and four faculty members. If through self-disqualification and challenges a panel cannot be constituted from the pool, then the Office of the Provost will supplement the pool using appropriate random selection methods.
  3. Procedure:
    1. Both the student and the instructor will have the right to appear before the panel, present witnesses, and offer evidence. In addition to those specified in Level III, Section A, each may also bring one observer, with whom he or she may consult but who may not participate in the review.
    2. The panel shall determine its rules of order for internal operation. After hearing the evidence brought forth, the panel will privately deliberate and render a decision. If the grade appeal is upheld, the panel will constitute a committee of three appropriate faculty members (knowledgeable in the discipline but excluding the faculty member against whom the complaint was lodged), who will review the student’s work and recommend the appropriate grade or suitable remedy. The panel will incorporate this information in its determination, which it then forwards to the Provost’s Office for implementation, ordinarily within thirty days. The Provost’s Office will initiate the processing of grade changes resulting from Level III decisions.
    3. The written report sent to the Provost’s Office will state whether the student’s appeal is upheld or denied; if upheld, the committee’s evaluation and remedy will be included. Both the student and the faculty member have the right to review all documents related to the appeal. All documents supporting the report will be sealed and kept only as long as necessary (normally one year) to ensure the appropriate action is taken before they are destroyed or returned to the individual presenting the evidence.

Ancillary Provisions

  1. Continuing Rights: This appeal does not supplant any legal rights afforded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and/or the government of the United States. Nothing in this policy abrogates or modifies any provisions of or rights under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  2. Discrimination in this policy generally means unlawful discrimination: To the extent that any form of discrimination identified in this definition is not unlawful discrimination, this definition shall not be taken to create a cause of appeal against the university. In such cases, the final appeal procedures stated in this policy will be final and binding on the student.
  3. Tenure and Promotion Committee Membership on Grade Appeals Committees: Members of the university-wide tenure and promotion committees may not serve concurrently on grade appeals committees.
  4. Support Mechanism: The Provost’s Office, after consultation with the Senate University-Wide Graduate Committee and APSCUF, will be responsible for identifying a pool of at least ten faculty members well versed in the preparation of grade appeals who will be available upon request to help students or faculty prepare documentation for the grade appeals process.
  5. Training/Support: The Provost’s Office will offer yearly information sessions/workshops to assist deans, chairs, grade appeals panel/committee members, and members of the Graduate Student Assembly/University-Wide Graduate Curriculum Committee in identifying issues and to provide guidance for the resolution of grade appeals.
  6. Dissemination of Grade Appeal Information: The Provost’s Office will annually report to the university community a statistical summary of grade appeal data that does not compromise confidentiality including 1) the number of appeals filed, 2) the resolutions at levels II and III, and 3) the final implementation of Level III decisions.
  7. Appeals on Procedural Grounds: Decisions may not be challenged merely because the Provost’s Office fails to comply with Ancillary Provisions D, E, or F above.
  8. Intentional Misrepresentation: Intentional misrepresentation in the filing of grade appeals by students will be referred to the university judicial system for students. Intentional misrepresentation by faculty in the grade appeals process will be referred to the Provost’s Office.
  9. Confidentiality: Students, faculty, administrators, and staff involved in processing and hearing grade appeals must respect the confidentiality of all aspects of these proceedings. Those breaching confidentiality subject themselves to possible disciplinary action. This shall not abridge the First Amendment rights of the student appellant nor the instructor against whom the appeal has been filed.
  10. Intended Purpose: The grade appeal procedures are designed simply as a means to resolve differences between students and faculty related to grading. Unless there is intentional misrepresentation, the results of a grade appeal may not be used for disciplinary action of personnel.
  11. Faculty Compensation: If a Review Panel (hearing) is scheduled at a time in the summer when any faculty member involved is not under contract, the faculty member will be compensated under terms mutually agreed upon at Meet-and-Discuss.
  12. Review of Policy: Every five years, the Senate University-Wide Graduate Committee will review, in consultation with the campus community, the operation of the Grade Appeals Policy and recommend changes deemed appropriate.

*Amendment: Amendments may be implemented upon concurrence by University Senate, APSCUF Representative Council, and Meet-and-Discuss.

Note: In the amendment process above, specification of University Senate implies the Council of Trustees’ role in approving Senate actions and recognizes the Council of Trustees’ final action to change policy.