RIGHTS CONCERNING GRADING PRACTICES
The determination of grades is the responsibility of the course instructor. At the beginning of a course, students have the right to be informed through the course syllabus, the basis of grading in the course. Both during a course and at its end, students have the right to know how their work was evaluated. Any grading policy modifications in the syllabus must be communicated clearly and in a timely manner.
Students and faculty should make every effort to resolve questions about grades without seeking a formal grade appeal. Grade appeal is a last resort. A grade appeal will be pursued only if there is a valid basis and evidence. The responsibility for developing and presenting the case for changing a grade rests with the student making the appeal. The process is non-judicial insofar as the Academic Regulations and Procedures are concerned, i.e., academic sanctions such as warnings, probations, and dismissals are irrelevant in grade appeals.
I. WHAT CAN BE APPEALED
Only final course grades may be appealed. Appeals may not be filed until the final grade is posted.Grades may be appealed that are allegedly caused by:
i. Unequal application of grading standards or applying grading criteria to one student or some students in a manner that treats them differently.
ii. Unfair or unannounced alterations of assignments, grading criteria, or computational process as stated in the syllabus.
iii. Computation dispute about the final grade.
iv. Failure by the course instructor to document a finding of academic dishonesty that affected the final grade. See Academic Integrity Policy.
II. WHAT CANNOT BE APPEALED
If grade change does not affect the final course grade. Disputes over the interpretation of the syllabus.Comparison of course grade policy with different courses or different sections of the same course.The impact of a grade on a student’s academic progress or eligibility for athletics, scholarships, veteran’s benefits, or financial aid.
III. SELECTION OF GRADE APPEAL FACILITATORS
The Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs appoints Grade Appeal Facilitators on the recommendation of the Faculty Senate President. There will be two Grade Appeal Facilitators for each academic council of the college/school.
Faculty and students from these units will nominate tenured faculty candidates for each appointment and the Faculty Senate President shall confirm the candidate’s willingness to serve and make recommendations to the Provost.
A Grade Appeal Facilitator is appointed for two years. The Grade Appeal Facilitator’s name, function, and college assignment are widely announced at the beginning of the academic year.
IV. ROLE OF THE GRADE APPEAL FACILITATOR
The Grade Appeal Facilitator serves students and faculty as someone to go to for grading issues and assists with the informal resolution process and the formal grade appeal process. The Facilitator provides students and faculty with information about the grade appeal process, forms, and timeline, and addresses any questions relating to grading dispute.
V. PROCESS FOR GRADE APPEAL
Students with questions concerning the final posted grade should immediately contact the course instructor to inquire about the issue as soon as grades are posted by the Registrar’s Office. The student may also notify the Grade Appeal Facilitator at the same time. When the course instructor is not available, or no longer works at UMass Dartmouth, the department chairperson should act on behalf of the instructor.
Formal Grade Appeal
i. Summary: If the student and course instructor do not reconcile differences informally, the student may bring the issue formally to the Grade Appeal Facilitator by filling out the Grade Appeal Form. The form should be supported with a clear basis for appeal. The burden of proof is upon the student to present documentation as evidence and demonstrate the appropriateness of formal appeal.
Deadlines: The student should submit the Grade Appeal Form to the Grade Appeal Facilitator, all documentation as evidence, and any e-mail exchanges with the course instructor or chairperson no later than Monday of the second week of January for fall semester grade appeals, and no later than Monday of the last full week of May for spring semester grade appeals. Copies of the form and all materials submitted by the student should be made available to the course instructor and chairperson.
ii. Within two days of receiving the documents, the Grade Appeal Facilitator will review the Grade Appeal Form and documentation in order to determine the existence of a basis and evidence for grade appeal.
a. If no basis for grade appeal is found after a review of the Grade Appeal Form and documentation, the Grade Appeal Facilitator shall notify the student with a clear explanation, and also notify the course instructor and department chairperson. This decision ends the grade appeal process.
b. If a basis for grade appeal is found and evidence is present, the Grade Appeal Facilitator shall attempt to find a nonbinding solution acceptable to the student and course instructor no later than Wednesday of the second week of January for fall semester grade appeals, and no later than Wednesday of the last full week of May for spring semester grade appeals. Otherwise, the Grade Appeal Facilitator shall forward all documents to the Grade Appeal Committee (GAC) for a formal hearing.
All formal hearings must take place by Friday of the second week of January for fall semester grade appeals, and Friday of the last full week of May for spring semester grade appeals. The Grade Appeal Facilitator must notify both course instructor and student of date, time, and location of the meeting. The course instructor and student have the right to attend. The Grade Appeal Facilitator will be present in an advisory, non-voting role. The GAC will deliberate this motion in closed session. A majority vote is required to pass this motion. The decision is conveyed in writing by the GAC to the student, the course instructor, the chairperson, the Grade Appeal Facilitator, and the Dean of the College of the instructor's department. The Dean will implement the decision.
iii. Within five class days of receiving the GAC's decision, either the student or the course instructor may, with sufficient cause, appeal the GAC's decision in writing to the Dean of the College. “Cause” is defined as new evidence or procedural error. Subsequently, the Dean must notify the student, course instructor, department chairperson, and Grade Appeal Facilitator of his/her decision including any changes required by the Registrar's office. The Dean’s decision is final.
Grades amnesty can be described as a means of conferring on our own students the benefits that transfer students receive. Grades amnesty is intended to permit the readmission of formerly unsuccessful students who present evidence of motivation and ability to succeed if readmitted to the university. When such a student requests readmission, s/he declares an intention to invoke the amnesty policy. In addition to permitting readmission when a student’s prior performance might not merit it, grades amnesty allows previous poor grades to be removed from the cumulative grade point average later, if certain conditions are met.
Students interested in readmission under this policy must first contact the Academic Advising Center to begin the process. Grade amnesty is invoked at the time of readmission and approved by the readmitted student’s advisor, chairperson, and dean. With the advisor’s assistance, the student must set academic goals carefully not only ultimately to achieve grades amnesty but to avoid or minimize probation and prevent future academic dismissal.
Requirements for a student to be considered for readmission under grades amnesty, and conditions for initial semesters:
- The student must have been matriculated in an undergraduate degree program at UMass Dartmouth or a predecessor institution.
- The student must have left the university at least 5 years previously with a cumulative grade point average below 2.500.
- The student must present evidence of motivation and ability to succeed if readmitted to the university; for example, the student could show good grades earned in some subsequent college courses.
- The student will be subject to graduation requirements in effect at the time of readmission.
- Once a student has accepted readmission under grades amnesty, s/he may not reverse that decision and is subject to its conditions.
- With two exceptions, all the usual probation and dismissal rules will apply to the readmitted grades amnesty student. Exceptions:
- Academic dismissal will not occur after the student’s first semester back.
- Readmitted grades amnesty students may not, during their first semester back, serve on university committees, hold leadership positions, or represent the university in intercollegiate athletics. Beyond their first semester, all regular probation and dismissal rules apply. Thus, if probation is earned after the first semester back, it shall be so noted and will again prevent the student from engaging in activities as above. A readmitted grades amnesty student can be subject to dismissal after the second semester back.
Requirements for previous grades to be removed from the cumulative grade point average under grades amnesty:
- The student must have been readmitted to matriculated degree status and be still a matriculated degree-seeking student.
- The student must have completed at least 45 credits since returning, with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.500.
- All courses and grades attempted and earned in the prior period of enrollment will remain a part of the student’s permanent record along with academic notations. However, none will be calculated into the student’s cumulative grade record and will be so annotated on the record.
- Courses passed in the prior period of enrollment with grades below C- will not be accepted toward satisfaction of any degree requirements following readmission, nor will the credits previously earned in them be credited toward the degree.
- Courses passed in the prior period of enrollment with grades of C- or better may be accepted towards satisfaction of major requirements if so approved by the department, but still are not calculated in the cumulative or major grade point