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Freedom from Capricious Grading

Students have a right to be free from capricious grading and to be treated fairly in grading and classroom practices. In most circumstances, students should seek to settle any dissatisfaction concerning grades directly with the faculty member involved. If a grade dispute cannot be settled in this way, students should consult the dean of the appropriate academic chair. If the issue remains unresolved, the student may appeal to the Grade Appeals Board (GAB).

Appeals to the GAB shall be filed with the chair of the GAB no later than the last regular class day of the next long semester after receiving the grade. An allegation of capricious grading shall be handled according to the grade appeals procedure outlined in Section 6.14 of the Student Handbook.

Grade Appeals Procedure

The following procedure is available only for review of alleged capricious grading and not for review of the judgment of a professor in assessing the quality of a student’s work.

Capricious Grading:

As the term is used herein, is limited to one or more of the following:

  1. the assignment of a grade to a student on some basis other than performance in the course;
  2. the assignment of a grade to a student by more exacting or demanding standards than were applied to other students in that course; and/or
  3. the assignment of a grade by a substantial departure from the professor’s standards announced and provided during the first part of the term.

The assessment of the quality of a student’s academic performance is one of the major professional responsibilities of College District faculty members and is solely and properly their responsibility. It is essential for the standards of the academic programs at the College District and the integrity of degrees conferred by Collin that the professional judgments of faculty members not be subject to pressures or other interference from any source.

It is necessary, however, that any course grade be based on evidence of the student’s performance in a course, that the student have access to the evidence, that the professor be willing to explain and interpret the evidence to the student, and that a grade be determined in accordance with published guidelines. These guidelines should be published and announced in each class within the first week of the semester.

At any time, a student may seek the counsel of a designated College District representative regarding the procedure for appealing alleged capricious grades or the merits of a particular case.

Seeking Clarification of Capricious Grading

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

  1. The student shall confer with the professor, inform the professor of questions concerning the grade, and seek to understand fully the grounds and procedures the professor 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 for any reason the professor cannot be contacted, the academic dean shall appoint the academic chair (or designee) to act for the professor.
  2. If, after consultation with the professor (or designee), the student believes that a grade is capricious, the student shall confer with the appropriate academic dean. The dean shall consult and advise with both the professor and student, separately or together, in an effort to reach an understanding and resolution of the matter.
  3. If steps (A) or (B) above do not resolve the problem, the student may submit a written petition with supporting documentation by completing the Grade Appeal Form.  A written petition without supporting documentation will not be considered. Examples of supporting documents may include, but are not limited to, course syllabus, copies of emails exchanged between professor and student, doctor’s statements, etc. 

Again, grade appeals of any type shall be instituted no later than the last regular class day of the next long semester after receiving the grade.

Petitioning for a Grade Appeal Hearing

The petition should be written to:

  1. request a review by the GAB;
  2. present evidence allegedly proving that the grade is capricious as defined above; and
  3. present the student’s conclusions.

The Grade Appeals Board will then contact the professor to determine the professor’s position. Based on the student’s petition, the professor’s response, and interviews by the chairperson of the Grade Appeals Board with the student and the professor, the GAB will conduct an inquiry that may include a meeting with the student and the professor, separately or together, to ascertain and consider relevant facts.

Decision of the Grade Appeals Board

The GAB will make one of these decisions:

  1. that the grade was not assigned capriciously and the grade will stand as assigned; or
  2. that the grade may have been assigned capriciously and merits further consideration.

If further consideration is needed, the GAB may then arrange for the professor (or designee) or a group of two (2) departmental/program colleagues to re-examine all the evidence of the student's work. The GAB will, as a result of this further consideration, recommend to the appropriate vice president/provost a grade the same as or different from the original grade. If the decision is to change the grade, the Grade Change Form will be sent to the vice president/provost (or designee) for signature, and then forwarded to the registrar.

If the decision is that the grade will remain as assigned, the student will be notified in writing of that decision. The decision of the GAB will be final. In summary:

  1. At all points of the decision, the student, the professor, the academic dean, and any parties involved will be notified after each decision has been reached.
  2. If the grade is changed, the Grade Change Form will be completed by the appropriate vice president/provost and submitted to the registrar for processing. A copy of the final Grade Change Form will be distributed to the professor (or designee), the academic dean, the chairperson of the Grade Appeals Board, and other appropriate parties.
  3. In accordance with College District personnel procedures, no decision of the Grade Appeals Board, by itself, will be a basis for disciplinary action against a professor.
  4. Students having a grievance with other academic or classroom related problems, other than their final grade, should first consult the professor. If the grievance is not resolved, the student should contact the appropriate academic dean. If the matter is still not resolved, the student may appeal to the appropriate vice president/provost.

In certain instances, the problem may be handled best through other procedures; therefore, a referral for assistance may be made to another office or to a task force (e.g., human relations task force, etc.).