Procedures for Use in Appealing Allegedly Capricious Semester Grades

Introduction


The assessment of the quality of a student's academic performance is one of the major professional responsibilities of college faculty members and is solely and properly their responsibility. It is essential for the standards of the academic programs at Eastern Iowa Community College and the integrity of the certificates, diplomas, and degrees conferred by this district that the professional judgments of faculty members not be subject to pressures or other interference from any source. It is necessary, however, that any semester grades be based on evidence of the student's performance in a course, that the student have access to the evidence, that the instructor be willing to explain and interpret the evidence to the student, and that a grade be determined in accordance with written standards. These written standards should be presented in each course within the first quarter of the semester term. At any time, a student may seek the counsel of a designated college representative regarding procedure in appealing alleged capricious grades or the merits of a particular case. The following procedures are available only for review of alleged capricious grading, and not for review of the judgment of an instructor in assessing the quality of a student's work. Capricious grading as that term is used herein, is limited to one or more of the following:

  1. the assignment of a grade to a particular student on some basis other than performance in the course;

  2. the assignment of a grade to a particular student by more exacting or demanding standards than were

    applied to other students in that course;

  3. the assignment of a grade by a substantial departure from the instructor’s standards announced during the first quarter of the term.


For the purposes of this document, "course" is defined as the section of an Eastern Iowa Community College course that is taught by an instructor of record during one particular academic term.


Appeal Procedures


Note: At each step of the process, the student, the instructor, the deans and any parties involved, shall respond in writing within 7 calendar days of receiving a formal request to do so.

A student who believes a semester grade is capricious may seek clarification and, where appropriate, redress, as follows:

  1. The student shall confer with the instructor, informing the instructor of questions concerning the grade, and seeking to understand fully the grounds and procedures the instructor has used in determining the grade. The aim of such a conference is to reach mutual understanding about the grade, the process by which it was assigned, and to correct errors, if any, in the grade. If the instructor for any reason cannot be contacted, the Dean of the College may designate a faculty member to act for the instructor.

  2. If after consultation with the instructor, the student believes that a grade is capricious, the student shall confer with the Dean of the College, or designated Division Dean, who shall consult and advise with both the instructor and student separately or together, in an effort to reach an understanding and resolution of the matter.

  3. If steps A or B do not resolve the problem, the student may submit a petition in writing to the Academic Appeals Committee. This petition must be submitted through the Dean of the College not later than the end of the fourth week of the semester following that for which the grade is being appealed, excluding the summer terms. The petition shall request a meeting with the committee and shall present evidence allegedly proving that the grade is capricious as defined above, and shall present the student's conclusions and the arguments which substantiate those conclusions. The Committee shall refer the petition to the instructor and secure from the instructor a response in writing, setting forth the instructor's position on the matter. On the basis of a consideration of the student's petition, the instructor's response, and interviews by the chairperson of the Academic Appeals Committee with the student and the instructor, the Academic Appeals Committee shall conduct an inquiry which may include a meeting with the student and the instructor separately or together to ascertain and consider relevant facts. The Committee shall make one of these decisions:

    1. That the grade was not assigned capriciously and shall stand as assigned.

    2. That the grade was assigned capriciously and merits further action. The Committee may then arrange for the instructor or a group of two departmental/program colleagues to reexamine all the evidence. If there is not enough evidence to assign a grade, additional assessments may be conducted to help determine the student's level of mastery and achievement in the subject matter. The Committee shall, as a result of its consideration, recommend a grade the same as or different from the grade alleged to be capricious. The decision of the Academic Appeals Committee is final.

Should the recommendation of the Academic Appeals Committee involve a change in grade, the Dean of the College shall direct the instructor to make the grade change. In the event the instructor declines to make the grade change, then the Dean of the College shall authorize the registrar to make the grade change and such a decision shall be final.


Composition of Academic Appeals Committee


A grade appeals committee shall be a standing committee on each campus to be available to consider appeals from students alleging that they have received capricious semester grades. The committee shall consist of four full-time faculty members and two full-time students. The two students shall be selected by the college's student senate/government. If a faculty committee member is the instructor whose assignment of a grade is being appealed, then the Dean of the College may appoint a substitute faculty member to the committee in place of that instructor. Also, if a member of the committee has been involved directly in mediating a solution to the issue previous to the formal appeal stage, the Dean of the College may appoint a substitute member to the committee. If a student member is appealing a grade, then the majority of officers of the student senate/government may select an alternate student committee member.