Updated and Approved August 2012
The Department of Statistics sets high standards for students and maintains a high standard of fairness in grading. Problem sets can often be measured against model solutions with little ambiguity as to the correct score. With open ended or writing-focused assignments, grading standards are articulated in assignment sheets and, where appropriate, in grading rubrics. When these standards are consistently applied throughout a course, then the final grade is assumed to be the correct grade.
Nevertheless, students can inquire about a grade and subsequently initiate a grade grievance when they think that the grade was unfairly given.
II. Consultation with Instructor
The student’s first recourse is to contact the instructor assigning the grade. Any student who believes a final grade is unfair must meet with the instructor of the course (a) by the end of the first six weeks of classes of the first regular term (Fall or Winter) following completion of the course, or (b) within six weeks of the issuance of a grade received by making up a grade of "incomplete". Grade appeals at later times will be considered only in extraordinary circumstances. If the instructor of the course is no longer employed at the University, however, the student may bypass this step and immediately initiate a formal complaint.
III. Formal Complaint to Department Chair
If the outcome of the instructor consultation is not satisfactory to the student, he or she can make a formal complaint. The complaint should take the form of a letter describing the student’s grievance and presenting specific evidence that the grade either was given in error or was unfairly determined. Relevant graded work and assignment sheets may be included as appendices. The letter should also summarize the outcome of the initial inquiry with the course instructor and indicate what aspects of the grievance remain in dispute.
The letter should be addressed to the Chair of the home department of the course in question, and must be delivered within two weeks of the student’s consultation with the instructor or, if the instructor indicates during the consultation that she or he will convey a decision afterwards, within two weeks of the instructor's communicating her or his response to the student. (If the student waits more than two weeks without receiving the instructor's response, he or she can initiate a formal complaint before hearing from the instructor, and has an additional three weeks within which to do so.) If the letter or accompanying appendices are delivered in paper form, the student should also notify its intended recipient of its delivery by e-mail.
If the instructor is the Chair, the formal complaint should be submitted to the Associate Chair, who will oversee the steps in IV.
IV. Department Review of Grade
Timely receipt of a letter of complaint initiates a formal peer review, administered by a Grade Review Committee appointed by the Chair. The Grade Review Committee may, at its discretion: (a) issue a recommendation upon its review of the complaint; or (b) solicit a response from the instructor and upon receipt of the response issue a recommendation to the Department Chair.
If the Grade Review Committee decides that a grade change is not warranted, the Chair will convey this in writing to the student and the instructor. The original grade will stand and the matter is considered closed.
If the Grade Review Committee recommends a grade change, the Chair will communicate that decision directly to the instructor. The instructor will consider the recommendation and make a final decision. If the instructor agrees to a grade change, the Chair will in writing inform the student of the instructor’s decision and the student’s final course grade will be changed. The matter is considered closed.
If the instructor does not accept the Grade Review Committee’s recommendation to change the final grade, the original grade will stand. By College policy, a final course grade rests solely with the instructor and, as such, a course grade cannot be changed without the instructor’s consent. When this occurs, the Chair will convey in writing this decision to the student. The matter is considered closed. There is no appeal beyond the Department.
The student can expect a final decision within three month of filing a letter of complaint.
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