Student Guide For Disputed Final Grade
The process involved in deciding to pursue a remedy to a final grade that you are disputing is not easy. Because of the emotional stress and strain that may accompany this process, you should follow these basic steps toward evaluating whether there is factual merit to your dispute and how you need to organize the facts so that others involved might agree with your dispute and support a resulting change in your final grade.
Because Delta is a college-level adult environment, our philosophy is that students are self-sufficient, independent and responsible participants in the interactive, give-and-take, and subjective learning process. There is a human element on the side of the student and on the side of the instructor in every class situation. The human element means that portions of a final grade that may be subjective in nature are always the prerogative of the instructor.
A grade dispute must be based on correctable items or issues. For example, you must be able to point to concrete factors that have affected your final grade—points were left out of the grading total, an exam, project or presentation was scored incorrectly or not counted in the final tally; a project or some extra-credit work did not get factored into the final point total, etc. Examples like these can be verified or discovered by the instructor and/or division chairperson as they respond to your dispute.
Since a final grade assignment is made on an individual basis, the dispute procedure can only be used by an individual questioning his or her own grade and cannot be used by one individual on behalf of a group of individuals.
Grounds for Appeal:
There are only three grounds for a student grade appeal, and any of these grounds may be sufficient to warrant an appeal.
1. The assignment of a grade using standards other than that described on the course outline, syllabus, appropriate addendums or program handbooks.
2. The assignment of a grade using a method other than that used for the other students in the class.
3. The assignment of a grade in a manner inconsistent with College policy, rules and regulations.
Evaluation Strategy 1:
Your first step when considering a final grade dispute should be to revisit the course syllabus and compare its elements to where you believe an error in grading occurred. The initial syllabus is very important to your evaluation of how or whether to proceed. It was your "roadmap" for the course and should contain the expectations, standards, and measurements regarding how a final grade would be achieved. In this evaluation you should be able to break your grade down into its various pieces, quizzes, papers, projects, presentations, exams, and elements of class attendance requirements and participation.
Evaluation Strategy 2:
When considering a dispute, this part of your evaluation is critical. You need to understand that learning style differences, needing a certain grade for transfer, meeting a prerequisite, or simply needing or expecting to do better in a course, are not disputable elements. These elements may have had a legitimate impact on your final grade, but it is expected that they would have been addressed much earlier in the course experience and in ways that would support the college-level independence, self-sufficiency and personal responsibility pointed out earlier.
Evaluation Strategy 3:
If after careful self-reflection in steps 1 and 2 you believe that the appeal of your final grade is still solid and tangible, then you should go to the more official step of notifying the Grade Ombudsman, Marcie Carter Phone (989) 686-9163 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The following outlines the basic steps and timelines contained in the Disputed Final Grade Policy, 4.025. A complete copy is available from the Grade Ombudsman.
A student who wishes to discuss concerns regarding a final grade will contact, in order, the faculty member, the Associate Dean, and the Academic Dean. The student must start the informal process no later than 10 days following the date the grade was due. At no time may the informal process extend beyond 25 days after the college due date for submission of final grades. The faculty member and the student will attempt to resolve the differences. The Associate Dean may be asked to assist with the conflict resolution. The Academic Dean will review the merits of the appeal and make any necessary referrals to the appropriate person if a process is to continue. The Grade Ombudsman may be consulted at any stage of the process.
- To formally appeal a final grade for a course, the student must contact the Grade Ombudsman within 5 days after the conference with the Academic Dean.
- The student will write, within five days of meeting with the Grade Ombudsman, a one to three page formal word processed statement that explains the circumstances of the disputed grade. The statement will be given to the faculty member by the Ombudsman.
- The faculty member will write a one to three page formal word processed statement of response and submit it to the Grade Ombudsman within five days of receiving the student's statement.
- The grade Ombudsman will supply the student with a copy of the faculty member’s statement and supply the Associate Dean with a copy of both the student’s and instructor’s statement.
- The Grade Appeal Board is composed of seven members: four faculty members, (three appointed by the Faculty Executive Committee and one appointed by the Associate Dean from the Division which offers the course in which the grade is being appealed); the appropriate academic dean; one Student & Educational Services representative appointed by the Vice President of Student & Educational Services; and one student from the Student/Senate Liaison Committee, appointed by the Senate President.
- The Grade Appeal Board will meet within 10 days of receiving the appeal at a time when both parties are available to respond to the Board’s questions. Under special circumstances, alternates may be appointed to the Grade Appeal Board by the person originally responsible for the appointment of that position.
- By majority vote, the Grade Appeal Board will make one of the following decisions within two days of the meeting:
- The appeal is dismissed and the grade remains.
- The grade dispute is resolved by changing the grade, or changing the grade under specific conditions. All members of the Board will determine if the grade should be changed and the faculty members on the Board will decide the specific grade to be awarded.
- Decisions reached by the Grade Appeal Board may be appealed to the President of the College. The President will only hear appeals that involve claims of procedural mistakes made in the process defined above. The President may:
- Dismiss the appeal
- Return the case to the Grade Appeal Board for rehearing.