Grade Grievance Policy

Academic Referrals and Grievances

Simmons College is committed to the principle of academic freedom and respects the integrity, expertise, and good judgment of faculty in the evaluation of students' academic work. The right and obligation of faculty to evaluate students' academic work and to determine student grades are fundamental to this principle. Faculty have the right to assign accurate grades based on methods of evaluation they deem appropriate as long as those methods are neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unlawfully discriminatory. All faculty are required to explain their grading methods and standards at the beginning of each term in each course they teach, preferably in writing, as part of their course syllabi.

Every student has a right to receive a grade that is calculated correctly and is assigned based upon a fair evaluation of work. The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) grade appeal policy provides students in courses taught in CAS by faculty appointed in CAS with a safeguard against receiving an incorrect and/or unfair final grade.

The grade appeal policy respects the confidentiality of students and faculty and holds all parties in any dispute responsible for upholding this confidentiality. A violation of confidentiality in the grade appeal process shall be treated as a violation of the Honor Code.

Basis of Grade Appeal/ Grade Change

This policy applies to students in the College of Arts and Sciences. Grade appeals can occur for the following three reasons: computational error; arbitrariness or capriciousness; unlawful discrimination. If a student believes that he/she has the basis to appeal a final grade, he/she should follow the grade appeal procedures and deadlines outlined below. A grade appeal must be initiated within ten instructional days of the semester following the term of the grade under appeal [1]. A student cannot appeal a grade after he/she has graduated.

Please note that, although individual assignments become part of a course grade appeal, only the final grade in a course is open to appeal under this process. As a result of the grade appeal process, the final grade may be raised, lowered, or stay the same. The grade appeal process will not attempt to grade or re-grade individual assignments or aspects of course work other than the final grade. Similarly, no new or revised course work can be requested by the student or accepted by the faculty member as part of a grade appeal process. Records of all graded material, including examinations, papers, homework, etc. shall be maintained by individual faculty members until the end of the grade appeal procedure period. Students are strongly encouraged to maintain copies of all work submitted to the faculty member as well as graded work returned to the student by the faculty member.

Explanation of Grounds for Appeal

Computational error. The faculty member is alleged to have made a mistake in the mathematical computation of the course grade. If the faculty member discovers a computational error in calculating a student's grade, he/she should submit a "Change of Grade" form to the Dean's Office. The faculty member should notify the student of the error and resulting change; the student has the right to question or appeal this grade following the procedures outlined below. If a student believes that a mistake has been made in the computation of his/her grade, he/she should first speak with the faculty member. If the faculty member agrees, she/he should complete a "Change of Grade" form, have it signed by the Department Chair and by the Dean's Office. If the faculty member does not agree, the student may then follow the procedures and deadlines outlined below Deadline: "Change of Grade" forms must be received by the Dean's Office no later than one semester following the semester in which the computational error was made.

Arbitrariness or capriciousness. The student alleges that the grade was based on something other than performance in a course (i.e. non-academic criteria); or the grade reflects standards different from those applied to other students in the course; or the grade departs from the standards of evaluation set forth in the syllabi or other written document in a substantial, unreasonable, and unannounced way. In this case, the student should follow the procedures and deadlines outlined below.

Discrimination. The student alleges that the grade reflects a violation of the College's non-discrimination policy as stated in the College catalogs and student handbooks. In this case, the student should follow the "grievance procedures" for bringing a claim of unlawful discrimination as outlined in the College catalogs and student handbook.

Grade Appeal Procedures and Deadlines

First Step: Informal Resolution with Course Faculty Member. If the student believes she/he has received an unfair course grade, she/he shall attempt to resolve the matter informally with the faculty member who assigned the grade [2]. The faculty member shall meet with the student to consider her/his reasons for believing the final grade to be unfair. If the faculty member does not believe there is merit for a grade change, he/she notifies the student. The student may then proceed to the second step below. If the faculty member believes there is reason to change the grade, he/she completes the "Change of Grade" form, including a clear explanation of the reason for the change that is consistent with the terms of this grade appeal policy. The faculty member submits the "Change of Grade" form to the Department Chair/Program Director for approval; the Department Chair/ Program Director submits it to the CAS Dean's Office for approval. After Dean's Office approval is received, the faculty member notifies the student of the change.

Deadlines: The student must make his/her appeal to the faculty member no later than the tenth day of instruction of the semester following the assignment of the grade under appeal. If the grade is not to be changed, the faculty member will notify the student of his/her decision within five days of instruction of their meeting. If the grade is to be changed, the faculty member submits the "Change of Grade" form to the Department Chair/Program Director within five days of instruction. The Dean's Office will notify the faculty member when the change has been processed so that the faculty member can notify the student.

Second Step: Informal Resolution with Department Chair/ Program Director. If, after the faculty member's notification of his/her consideration of the initial grade appeal, the student continues to believe that the grade is unfairly assigned, the student shall meet with the Chair/Director [3] of the Department/Program in which the course was taken and explain the grounds for the student's grade appeal. The student will provide all supporting course materials. The Department Chair/ Program

Director shall meet with the faculty member. If the faculty member, after discussion with the Department Chair/Program Director, agrees that the grade should be changed, she/he completes a "Change of Grade" form, including a clear explanation of the reason for the change that is consistent with the terms of this grade appeal policy. The faculty member submits the "Change of Grade" form to the Department Chair/Program Director for approval; the Department Chair/ Program Director submits it to the CAS Dean's Office for approval. If the faculty member does not agree, the student may proceed to the third step below.

Deadlines: The student must lodge an appeal with the Department Chair/Program Director within ten instructional days after notice of the decision in "first step" above. The Department Chair/Program Director informs the student of her/his decision within five instructional days of their meeting.

Third Step: Dean's Review. If, after seeking informal resolution with the Department Chair/ Program Director, the student continues to believe that the assigned grade is unfair and wishes to pursue the appeal, the student may submit a formal written appeal and "Grade Appeal" form to the CAS Dean's Office. The written statement includes the student's reasons for appealing the grade and any supporting materials. The Dean or his/her designate shall meet, separately and/or together, with the student and the faculty member and may ask for a written statement from the faculty member. Additionally, the Dean or his/her designate shall meet with the Department Chair/Program Director. If the Dean's Review determines that there is no merit to the grade appeal, the Dean informs the student that the final grade stands. The grade appeal process ends here.

Deadlines: The student must submit a written statement and "Grade Appeal" form to the CAS Dean within ten instructional days of the notice of the decision in the "second step" above. The Dean informs the student of his/her decision within ten instructional days of their final meeting.

Fourth Step: Faculty Grade Appeal Committee. If the Dean's Review determines that there is merit to the grade appeal, the Dean will refer the appeal to the Faculty Grade Appeal Committee.

Deadlines: The Faculty Grade Appeal Committee has twenty instructional days to convene and deliberate. The Committee notifies the student, faculty member, and Dean's Office of its decision within five instructional days of its decision.


[1] For the purposes of graduate and undergraduate grade appeals, an instructional day is a day on which classes are in session according to the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) undergraduate calendar (www.simmons.edu/academics/calendar/). For example, in academic year 2009-2010, classes began on Wednesday September 2, 2009. Therefore, ten instructional days would be counted as September 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, and 16.

[2] In exceptional circumstances, the student may go directly to the second step to seek informal resolution with the Department Chair/ Program Director.

[3] If the Department Chair/Program director is untenured, he/she may want to work jointly with a senior member of the department/program.