Skip to main content.

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.

Grade appeal

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

  1. Only final course grades may be appealed. Appeals may not be filed until the final grade is posted.
  2. Grades may be appealed that are allegedly caused by:
    1. Unequal application of grading standards or applying grading criteria to one student or some students in a manner that treats them differently.
    2. Unfair or unannounced alterations of assignments, grading criteria, or computational process as stated in the syllabus.
    3. Computation dispute about the final grade.
      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

  1. If grade change does not affect the final course grade.
  2. Disputes over the interpretation of the syllabus.
  3. Comparison of course grade policy with different courses or different sections of the same course.
  4. 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 the 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

Informal Resolution

Informal Resolution: 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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Grade appeal officer

A faculty member is identified as the Grade Appeal Officer, who serves students and faculty as an ombudsperson for grading issues. S/he provides students and faculty with someone to go to with questions relating to grading fairness and process; is the first level of adjudication when issues related to grading arise between students and faculty by suggesting a non-binding solution after conducting an informal investigation of the issue; and serves as facilitator for a formal grade appeal process when one is to occur.

Rights concerning grading practices

At the beginning of a course, students have a right to be told what and how much work will be required and the detailed basis of grading in the course. Any modifications must be communicated clearly and in a timely manner.

Both during a course and at its end, students have a right to know how their work was evaluated and the bases for the calculating of scores and grades. If an instructor is no longer available, the department chairperson is responsible to facilitate this communication. In matters of grading, the chairperson can act for a faculty member who is no longer working at UMass Dartmouth.

Faculty have a right to judge their students’ academic work. Others’ judgments will not be substituted.

Timing of a formal appeal

A formal appeal is submitted in writing to the Grade Appeal Officer explaining the basis and providing the evidence for the formal appeal, with copies to the faculty member and to the faculty member’s department chair. This must be done within the first 20 class days of the following semester, excluding summers, or within 25 working days from the date that the grade is made available to the student by the Registrar’s office, whichever is later; or by a specific later date set by the Grade Appeal Officer.

Please contact the undergraduate advising center in your college to begin the grade appeal process.

Grade amnesty policy

Grade amnesty is intended to permit the readmission of formerly unsuccessful students who present evidence of motivation and ability to succeed. When previously unsuccessful students request readmission, they must declare an intention to invoke grade amnesty. In addition to permitting readmission when students’ prior performance might not merit it, grade 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 should contact the advising office in their college or the Dean’s Office in their college 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 to ultimately achieve grade amnesty, and to avoid or minimize probation and prevent future academic dismissal. 

Requirements for a student to be considered for readmission under grade 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 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 grade 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 student readmitted with grade amnesty. Exception (1): Academic dismissal will not occur after the student’s first semester back. Exception (2): The student 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 student readmitted with grade amnesty 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 remain 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 averages.

Please contact the undergraduate advising center in your college to begin the grade amnesty process.

 

bg

Visit us virtually

Visit us from anywhere, at any time.
Take a virtual tour of the UMass Dartmouth campus.