Grade Appeals, All Students
A final course grade assigned by an instructor may be appealed by a student following the procedures defined below. A grade appeal should be considered only in instances where an instructor demonstrated a substantial deviation from accepted and specified standards as outlined by the instructor, program, college/school/department, or university.
Generally, such deviations are evidenced by, but not limited to, the following:
The instructor deviated substantially from the course syllabus;
The instructor deviated substantially from accepted and specified standards of proficiency of the University and/or academic department as established by the Faculty Handbook and/or college/school/department Academic Policy Manual;
The instructor applied established classroom policies unevenly and/or inequitably across students enrolled in the class;
The instructor applied established academic assessment methods unevenly and/or inequitably across students enrolled in the class.
Entities affected by this policy
Office of the Provost
All colleges/schools/departments and instructional units or programs
Office of the Registrar
Who should know this policy
All faculty, instructors, and academic officials
Designated Administrator: refers to the individual in charge of carrying out the specific step of the process. Generally, this will be the department chair/director of the department/school where the course resides. However, terminology does vary among the academic units.
Meeting: means the presence of all parties to the review or grade appeal hearing, either physically in one location or via electronic means.
Silent Observer: means the individual a student, instructor, or designated administrator chooses to bring to observe any step of the appeal process. This observer is present to serve as a silent witness to the proceedings, and is not a participant. This individual would be able to report on any actions during the steps of the appeal process to a designated administrator.
Statement of Issues: means the written record provided by the student or instructor containing specific reasons as to why the grade or decision to change the grade is being appealed.
Only the faculty member who assigned an original grade has the authority to change that grade, with the exception of grade changes implemented by this policy. In the event the faculty member who assigned the original grade is no longer with the university, the authority to change the grade, including decisions and assessment of outstanding work, is delegated to the academic unit’s designated administrator.
Throughout the appeal process, the original assigned grade remains as the student’s official grade until the point where it may be modified as a result of this process. If the grade appeal is based on an allegation or finding of an academic integrity violation, then the student must follow the Academic Integrity Policy procedures, as this is not considered a grade appeal.
If the faculty member who assigned the original grade is no longer employed by the university, on sabbatical/leave or other kind of assignment, or otherwise cannot participate in the appeal process, the appeal is filed with the appropriate designated administrator. This may progress the appeal to a further step in the process, (e.g. if a faculty member is on sabbatical leave and the unit’s designated administrator handles the grade appeal, the process begins at the Level 2 review.) Upon receiving a written request from the student for the grade appeal, the designated administrator will identify the starting point of the process for which the appeal will occur, and notify the student of where to begin the process.
Timeline for Appeal
The student must initiate the appeal process following the timeline* below:
Appeal of a course grade received in a fall or winter session must be initiated within the first 15 business days of the following spring term (for 16-week courses) or session (for courses that run less than 16 weeks);
Appeal of a course grade received in a spring or summer session must be initiated within the first 15 business days of the following fall term (for 16-week courses) or session (for courses that run less than 16 weeks).
Due to typical academic calendars and faculty workload expectations, the appeal process will generally be conducted only during the fall and spring academic terms. In rare circumstances that are supported by evidence of extenuating circumstances, and with the permission of the Dean (or designee) of the academic unit where the appeal resides, a grade appeal may be initiated in a summer term or winter intersession term.
If the student fails to submit requested materials at any point in the appeal process, or fails to notify the designated administrator within the timeline specified in this policy, the original decision or result from the immediate previous point in the process will remain the final decision. If the student fails to initiate the first step within the timeline above, then the grade the student originally received will remain final. A request for an extension of time for this process due to extenuating circumstances may be submitted to the designated administrator for the grade appeal.
Group grade appeals are generally not permitted. Requests for a group appeal shall be submitted to the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, who has the authority to approve or deny such requests.
Level 1: Faculty Review
Within the allotted time frame established in this policy, the student will provide a Statement of Issues to the instructor outlining the reasons why the grade should be reviewed. This is considered initiation of the appeal process.
Within ten (10) business days after the student has communicated a proper request, a student-instructor meeting must be scheduled, and if possible, conducted to discuss the appeal. The meeting may be conducted in person, via the telephone, or other electronic meeting technology agreed upon by the student and instructor. Both the student and the instructor may bring a silent observer to this meeting. It is recommended that this meeting be recorded.
Within ten (10) business days, the instructor makes a decision and sends a written communication to the student documenting the meeting and confirming the decision that was made. This communication will contain a summary of the meeting.
Within three (3) business days of receipt of the written communication, the student may request a review if they dispute the instructor’s decision. This review will be requested from the designated administrator of the department where the course resides.
Level 2: Administrator Review
Upon receiving a timely written request from the student, the designated administrator will call a meeting of the student, instructor, and themselves. This meeting may be conducted in-person, or via telephone or electronic meeting technology agreed upon by all parties.
Within three (3) business days prior to the meeting, the student and instructor will each provide the designated administrator with a Statement of Issues. The student may revise their original Statement of Issues for this step, if additional information gleaned from previous meetings adds clarifying or pertinent context. Both the student and the instructor may bring a silent observer to this meeting. It is recommended that this meeting be recorded.
Within ten (10) business days, the designated administrator makes a decision and sends a written communication to the student and instructor documenting the meeting and confirming the decision that was made based upon the evidence presented. This communication will contain a summary of the meeting and both Statement of Issues. If the instructor of the course is a department chair or the administrator of the academic unit, the Level 2 Review is conducted by a Dean-designated administrator within the College.
Within three (3) business days of receipt of the written communication, the student may request an appeal if they dispute the designated administrator’s decision. This review will be requested through the associate dean of the college where the course resides. The student may revise their original Statement of Issues for this step, if additional information gleaned from previous meetings adds clarifying or pertinent context.
Level 3: Grade Appeal Hearing
Upon receiving a timely written request from the student, the associate dean will appoint, schedule, and convene an ad hoc committee to hear the appeal. Any requests for information by the Committee Chair to the student or instructor must be honored within five (5) business days. All materials submitted must be given to the individual designated as the Chair of the ad hoc committee. All parties and committee members will be provided with the documentation of decisions from previous reviews and any submitted Statement of Issues. Committee members and all parties must receive the hearing documents no later than two (2) business days prior to the hearing.
No written responses or addendums may be presented less than five (5) business days prior to the hearing. No new written responses or addendums may be presented at the hearing. If the Committee chair considers any request for information to be a potential violation of confidentiality, he/she should consult with the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs for final resolution of the request.
Dean's Ad Hoc Committee Composition
Dean of the College, or designee, who chairs the committee. This individual must be different from the individuals who served as the designated administrators in steps 1 and 2;
Two faculty members from the department/school where the course resides. If two faculty members from the department cannot be found, faculty from other academic units within the college/department/school may be appointed;
Two faculty members from an academic unit outside the department in which the course resides. These faculty members may come from the same college/school or a different college/department/school where the course resides;
An Associated Students of Northern Arizona University (ASNAU) senator, or designee, for undergraduate students or a Graduate Student Government (GSG) representative, or designee, representing the college/school involved with the appeal. If this individual is not available, the Chair of this Committee may appoint another student to fulfill this role.
A representative of the Office of the Provost, in an advisory (non-voting) capacity.
All members of the Dean’s ad hoc committee must be present in-person or via electronic means during the hearing. All parties involved with the previous review steps (designated administrator, student, and/or instructor) will be present during the fact-finding portion and may bring a silent observer, providing the chair of the committee is notified of their presence no less than two (2) business days prior to the hearing.
Hearing Procedures: Fact-Finding Portion
Introduction of committee members by Chair.
Process statement by Provost Office representative.
Presentation of information by student, summarizing Statement of Issues.
Presentation of Information by instructor and/or designated administrator, summarizing Statement of Issues.
Questions from Committee Members.
Final responses from student, instructor, and/or designated administrator.
The fact-finding phase of the hearing should generally last between 30 and 45 minutes.
Hearing Procedures: Deliberations and Vote
After deliberations, the chair will dismiss all parties except the ad hoc committee, and call for a vote by the committee members of whether the original grade will be affirmed or changed. In case of a tie, the chair’s vote determines the final decision. Within five (5) business days, written communication will be sent to the student, instructor, and designated administrator indicating the decision of the committee, and any pertinent rationale behind the decision.
It is recommended that the fact-finding portion of the meeting in which the student and instructor/designated administrator present their information be recorded and summarized in writing by a member of the Dean’s support staff. No recording of the Committee’s deliberations and vote is allowed.
The recording and summary documents will be retained in the office of the Dean with a copy forwarded to Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. These will be disposed of according to the Arizona Statutes on Records Retention. The student, instructor, and designated administrator will be sent copies of the minutes and may propose corrections to the committee chair. Members of the committee or hearing participants may make a written request to the committee chair to have access to or a copy of the fact-finding phase recording, if one exists. All such requests will be considered along with the University’s required compliance with the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (Act) and any other applicable laws and University policies.
The decision of the Dean’s ad-hoc Committee is a final and binding decision. The only grounds for appeal to the Provost’s Office are violations of the procedures outlined in this policy. Should this be the case, the matter may be appealed in writing to the Office of the Provost within ten (10) business days from the distribution date on the hearing result memo sent to the student, instructor, and designated administrator.
The appeal request will be forwarded via the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs to the Chair of the Academic Standards Committee (ASC) who shall be responsible for calling a meeting of a subcommittee of the ASC composed of six (6) individuals. All parties (designated administrator, student, and/or faculty member) must be notified by the Chair of the ASC, in writing, of the hearing at this level and the procedures to be followed.
At a meeting specifically scheduled to consider only the grade appeal, the ASC sub-committee will conduct a review of the process of the appeal at all levels based on the particular circumstances of the case and the policies of the University. The review shall be focused solely on the process carried out by the various participants involved in all stages of the grade appeal. The ASC sub-committee may invite the appealing party and other relevant individuals to the hearing if it decides the individual’s presence is required to provide the information necessary for the sub-committee to make an informed decision.
The decision reached by the ASC Sub-committee will be communicated to all parties (designated administrator, student, and/or faculty member) and the Dean of the college where the course resides. The decisions reached by the ASC Sub-committee shall become a matter of University record in the Office of the Provost. This decision shall be final; there is no appeal beyond this level.