Grade Appeals

What is a Grade Appeal?

A grade appeal is a request for a college or university to modify a course grade. Higher education institutions allow attending students to request an appeal when school staff has made a mistake that adversely affects a student's academic standing in a particular course.

As paid employees of an educational institution, faculty members are expected to clearly establish course requirements along with the standard of academic performance students must meet to pass a class. It is also the responsibility of faculty to apply grading criteria, exam dates, and other class activities referenced in a syllabus in a fashion that is in accordance with course requirements. Most higher education institutions require students who have questions about marks on their assignments and overall grade to consult with an instructor. But in cases when resolution doesn't seem attainable through consultation, and a student believes they have grounds for appealing a grade, he or she may initiate the appeals process.

Grounds for a Grade Appeal

Discontentment with the grade a faculty member gave you is not enough to validate an appeal in the eyes of higher education institution authorities. Students must have grounds, or a legitimate reason for an appeal in order to be granted one. Grade appeals are granted on the basis of procedural issues as opposed to errors in judgments or opinion. A student will only be able to appeal a grade when they can provide evidence of any of the following conduct:

  • An instructor failed to notify students of criteria in regard to grade determination
  • An error was made in the calculation of a grade
  • The assignment of a grade was imposed for reasons that deviate from the established standards and criteria
  • Arbitrary and inconsistent guidelines applied to the evaluation of a student's performance
  • The assignment of a grade was imposed based on components other than the academic performance of a student (personal bias, partiality)
  • The overall grade was given on the basis of discrimination, harassment or malice

The Appeal Process

Although each school has their own specific policies and procedures, many colleges and universities give students 45 calendar days (7 weeks) after the grade was officially recorded to contest a decision. This consists of a student submitting an appeal to the School Dean that includes substantiating evidence of one or more of the grounds for appeal listed above. Documented correspondence between a student and a professor, an assignment list, proof of a timely submission, an incorrectly marked exam etc. can be used as evidence.

If a dean concludes that the evidence meets the criteria, a copy of the appeal will be forwarded to an instructor for a response, and then sent to the grade appeals committee at your school.

Pennsylvania & New Jersey Student Rights Attorney

For some students, a failed class could jeopardize their educational future. Unfortunately, students taking college courses sometimes receive a failing grade that they don't deserve due to a faculty member's mistake. In these circumstances, students are granted the opportunity to appeal this grade. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento has represented students in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide at all collegiate levels - undergraduate to master's and doctoral - and understands how to maximize the likelihood of a grade appeal. Contact him today for help.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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