Students may appeal only the final grade assigned in a course, and only for reason. Valid reasons are limited to:
- The grade was assigned in an arbitrary manner (meaning it reflects a substantial deviation from accepted academic norms and/or from stated procedures found in the course syllabus or elsewhere), or
- The grade was assigned in a prejudicial manner (meaning it was based at least partly on ill-will and is at odds with the stated means by which grades are to be determined in the course), or
- At least one factor contributing to the grade is in violation of University regulations or in violation of state or federal law, or
- There was an error in fact in the manner in which the grade was determined.
Students and faculty members should make every effort to informally resolve grade disputes. The grade appeal policy provides a method of last resort if informal deliberations fail to satisfy all parties.
The grade appeal policy applies only when a student initiates such an appeal. The grade appeal policy does not apply if an instructor voluntarily elects to change a final grade, nor does it apply to any portion of a grade (up to and including the final course grade) which may have resulted from a disciplinary action (such as punishment for an honor code liability). Grade appeals which may occur in conjunction with an alleged violation of Oglethorpe’s policy prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation must be deferred until the grievance procedure detailed in that policy has fully concluded. Throughout this policy, any reference to “instructor” is understood to be a reference to the instructor of record.
If a student feels that he/she/they has a valid reason to appeal a final course grade, and if informal negotiations with the instructor have not yielded relief, then the student may formally appeal the grade as follows.
Any grade appeal must be initiated no later than the last day of classes of the semester immediately following the one where the grade was issued. If for any reason the instructor of the course is unavailable (e.g., is away for the summer, is on a sabbatical leave, etc.) the division chair will attempt to confer with the instructor to determine whether to proceed or delay the process until the instructor’s return. If the instructor is unable to return within one semester of the initiation of the grade appeal, the division chair will assume authority for the role of the instructor in the process.
The student (either in person or via e-mail) requests from the provost’s office an official grade appeal form. On that form the student will state why he/she/they feels the particular grade should be changed, providing as many details as possible. The only valid bases for appeal are the four listed above. The completed and signed form, along with any relevant supporting documentation, must be returned (either in person or via e-mail) to the provost’s office within five business days of the form having been given or sent to the student.
The associate provost will forward the appeal and all supporting documentation to the instructor for the course in question. The instructor has 15 business days to respond to the associate provost and the student in writing, either agreeing or refusing to change the grade. If the instructor agrees to change the grade, the appropriate change of grade form must be filed with the registrar within the ensuing five business days. In this case, the appeal is concluded. In the case of a refusal, the instructor will explain the reasons for the refusal, adding as many details as possible. If the student still wishes to continue the appeal, the student will notify the associate provost of this fact within the next five business days following the announcement of the instructor’s decision. In this case, the process moves to Step 3.
The associate provost forwards the original appeal, the instructor’s response and all supporting materials to the chair of the division in which the course is housed. In the case of a Core course, the Core director will serve as the relevant division chair. If the instructor is the chair, the associate provost will select the chair of a different division to serve in his/her stead. If the course is not housed within the Core or one of the regular divisions, a chair of one of the divisions will be selected to serve in this role by the associate provost. The chair will review the materials, and may elect to interview the student, the instructor and any other potential witnesses. Following this process, the chair summarizes his/her findings and delivers a written judgment to the associate provost, who will inform the other parties of the chair’s decision. The chair’s decision is conditionally binding (see Step 4) on both parties. If the chair decides that the grade should be changed, the chair will have sole authority on determining what the new grade should be.
If either party can compellingly argue that the result of Step 3 is unjust, he/she/they has five business days from the date of notification of the chair’s decision to make such arguments in writing and to request the provost render a final decision in the matter. The provost will review all reports and documentation affiliated with the appeal, and may opt to interview the student, the instructor or any witnesses. The provost will render a binding, final and non-appealable decision in the matter. If the provost decides that the grade should be changed, the provost will have sole authority on determining what the new grade should be.