Procedure for Grade Appeal
A student has the right to express concern about his or her grade, keeping in mind that faculty members have sole responsibility for assigning grades. The right to appeal a grade assumes a corresponding responsibility on the part of the student to act in good faith. It is the student’s responsibility to communicate any concerns with the professor throughout the semester. If there are discrepancies with respect to academic honesty, students should refer to the Senate Statement on Academic Honesty. Students may not appeal a grade for an individual assignment or examination. Only the final course grade may be appealed, and the appeal (step two below) must be filed within the first 30 days of the official start of the following fall or spring semester. If the faculty member who assigned the grade is no longer at the college, the dean may refer the student to the chair or coordinator of the appropriate department.
If, at any point in time, this process or this information seems overwhelming to the student, it is recommended that students contact an Advocate that is a member of the PSC Faculty or Staff. Please contact the PSC Faculty or Staff member and ask him/her to be your advocate and guide you through this process.
Steps in the Grade Appeal Process:
Step One: The student meets with the faculty member who issued the grade. At this meeting, the instructor reviews the grading policy with the student and makes sure the grade was correctly calculated. If the course grade is based on a portfolio assessment, it is recommended that the student also discusses the course grade with the department chair before proceeding to step two. If no satisfactory resolution is reached, the student may proceed to step two.
Step Two: The student downloads and completes a Grade Appeal Form from. The student completes the form and explains why the grade is incorrect. The dean sends the completed form to the student’s instructor.
Step Three: The faculty member responds with a short written explanation of the assigned grade and returns the form to the division dean within 10 business days of receiving the grade appeal. The dean signs and dates the form, confirming that the deadline has been met.
Step Four: The dean notifies the student of the faculty member’s decision. After hearing from the dean, a student who is dissatisfied with the outcome has up to 10 business days to ask the Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) to arrange the final step in the appeal process.
Step Five: The VPAA will coordinate a panel that consists of three faculty members if the above criteria have been met. The student is notified of the time of the Grade Appeal Meeting or referred to the department chair. The decision of the appeal committee is final. After hearing from the dean, if the student believes that the process was not followed as indicated, he/she may petition the President. The President will evaluate all documents and if the President agrees that procedure was not followed, it will be referred back to the VPAA to coordinate a new panel.
Step Six: If the student disagrees with the President’s decision and can present evidence to support this, he/she may petition the Board of Trustees. At this time, the Board of Trustees will review all evidence and make their decision. At this point, the decision of the Board of Trustees is final.
Access the Final Grade Appeal Form.
Grade Appeal Process Advocates
The grade appeal process can daunting for all parties involved. It is for this reason that both the faculty member and the student may choose an advocate to help throughout the process. While the advocate is meant to assist the faculty member or student, the advocate does not represent the faculty member or student and will not be able to speak on their behalf. It is requested that the advocate be named on the Grade Appeal Form; however, if an advocate has not been chosen at the time the Grade Appeal Form is turned it, it may be left blank. Once an advocate has been determined, the Vice President of Academic Affairs needs to be notified in writing.
To help the process go as smoothly as possible, it is recommended that you have an advocate. An advocate that is a representative of the school (while suggested but not required) will be aware of the process and help you navigate it. This advocate may or may not be a representative of the school. If you choose someone who is not affiliated with Prairie State College, you will need to sign a FERPA waiver in the Office of Enrollment Services before the Grade Appeal Meeting. The school advocate will be available to look over your proposal and make any suggestions. Because the Grade Appeal Form is a formal document, you will want to ensure that it is free of grammatical errors.
When gathering materials in preparation for filling out the form, it is important to include all documents that may aid in the process. Please highlight the areas in the documents that directly relate to your request. Some examples include:
- Emails (or other forms of communication)
- Homework assignments
- Assessments (quizzes, tests, etc)
From time to time, you may be notified that a student from one of your previous courses has initiated the Grade Appeal Process. This is the right of the student and is not a disciplinary action toward you. Because you will be participating in this process, you (along with the student) have the opportunity to have someone assist you. An advocate can be anyone that you choose; however, it is recommended that it is a representative of this school. Some examples include: a fellow colleague, counselor/advisor, staff or administrative member. The purpose of the advocate is to help you through this process.
When the student initiates the process, you will have the opportunity to clarify the grade that the student received. You will want to provide all documentation that will support your reasoning. Please highlight the areas in the documents that directly relate to your reasoning Some examples include:
- Emails (or other forms of communication)
- Homework assignments
- Assessments (quizzes, tests, etc)
It is not recommended to include all documents from the course; however, it is recommended to be thorough and include those documents pertaining to the student’s grade. If at any point in time you are unsure, you may choose to include it or ask your advocate. Additionally, if you are uncomfortable participating in the Grade Appeal Meeting, please advise the VPAA. Your presence is not required; however, please understand that if you do not attend, the panel will only be able to use the documents that you provide to support the grade earned by the student. If the panel chooses to change the grade, additionally, it is your right to refuse to fill out the Change of Grade form. If you choose to do this, please advise the VPAA. At that time, the VPAA will ask the Grade Appeal Panel Chairperson to fill out the Change of Grade form (with the support of the panel).
Appealing a Grade:
Students may appeal their grade for the following reasons:
- The grade is based on an error in calculation.
- The grade assigned did not follow the grading criteria stated on the course syllabus.
The following are not legitimate reasons that warrant a change in grade:
- The course was poorly designed or facilitated.
- The course was too difficult.
- This course required too much work.
In order to ensure a timely response, it is important to follow the timeline established on the Final Grade Appeal Form. If, at any point in time, the student does not adhere to the timeline, the right to a Grade Appeal may be forfeited.
After the student has followed the initial steps regarding the Grade Appeal Process (meeting and discussing with the instructor), if he/she does not like the outcome, he/she may proceed with the process. At this time, the student is responsible for organizing his/her argument in order to present it to the Panel. It is the student’s responsibility and burden to show that the final grade reported was in error. To help with this process, it is recommended that the student work with an advocate. To see more information regarding advocates visit the Grade Appeal Process Advocates web page.
Grade Appeal Meeting:
It is important to note that all students have the right to appeal their grade. After the student has followed the process as outlined by the Final Grade Appeal Form, the Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) will coordinate a panel of 3 faculty members. Students will be advised in writing (via email and letter) as well as a phone call from an administrative assistant with the date and time of the Grade Appeal Meeting. The student must confirm the date and time. If confirmation does not occur, the student may forfeit his/her right to the meeting (which will result in not changing the final grade).
At the beginning of the meeting, the VPAA will allow all parties to introduce themselves. The following people are expected to be present: VPAA, student, faculty member of class, panel of three faculty members, advocates (for both the student and faculty member should they choose to have one) as well as an individual who is responsible for taking notes. If the student is not present and has not advised the VPAA of his/her absence, the meeting may continue on as scheduled. If the faculty member is not present and has not advised the VPAA of his/her absence, the meeting may continue on as scheduled. The VPAA will explain the outline of the meeting. After introductions, the student will be asked to present his/her appeal. After the student has completed his/her presentation, the Faculty Member will present. Once both parties have presented their cases (to last approximately 10 minutes each), the Panel will have the opportunity to ask follow up questions. After the Panel has asked all questions, each party (the student and faculty member) will have the opportunity to ask follow up questions regarding the opposing presentation. Once this has occurred, the VPAA will dismiss all but the faculty panel.
The faculty panel will have two business days to discuss and make a decision. During the meeting of the faculty panel, the members will evaluate all evidence presented. A simple majority is needed. The following are possible outcomes:
- The panel believes, based on of everything presented, a grade change is warranted.
- The panel believes, based on of everything presented, a grade change is not warranted.
- The panel identifies work that can be completed in order to warrant a grade change (for example: write another paper, complete another test, etc). If the student declines this option, a grade change will not be warranted.
The Chairperson of the Faculty Panel will notify the VPAA of the panel’s decision.
The VPAA will notify all the parties of the panel’s decision in writing (via email and letter) as well as a phone call. If the student believes that procedure has not been followed, he/she may petition the President. If the President determines that procedure was not followed, he/she will refer the appeal back to the VPAA who will form a new Grade Appeal Panel (refer to Step five of the Grade Appeal Process). If the President determines that procedure was followed, the decision of the Panel stands. At this point, if the student continues to believe that procedure was not followed, he/she can petition the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will evaluate all documents and if procedure was followed, the decision of the Panel will stand. If not, the Board of Trustees will refer the appeal back to the VPAA who will form a new Grade Appeal Panel (refer to Step five of the Grade Appeal Panel Process). The decision of the Board of Trustees is final.