Inside Fletcher: Faculty

Policy on Capricious Grading

Approved by the Faculty on February 24, 2010

Prohibition Against Capricious Grading

Section 1.  Capricious grading is prohibited.

DEFINITION

Section 2.  Capricious grading consists of the arbitrary and capricious assignment of a grade to a student

(a) for reasons other than the student’s performance in the course;

(b) through resort to more exacting or demanding standards than were applied to other students in the course; or

(c) by a substantial departure from the instructor’s previously announced standards for the course.

 

FILING OF A STUDENT COMPLAINT

Section 3. (a) A student who believes that his or her grade in a course constitutes capricious grading under section 2 of this Policy shall so notify the course instructor not later than 14 week days after the day on which the grade was posted, or after the first class has met in the semester following the semester in which the course was taken, whichever is later.

(b) The student and the instructor shall confer promptly to seek a mutually acceptable resolution.

(c)(1) If no such resolution can be achieved, the student may file a preliminary complaint with the Academic Dean not later than 14 week days after the day on which notification occurred under subsection (a) of this section, or after the first class has met in the semester following the semester in which the course was taken, whichever is later.

(2) Such preliminary complaint shall include a written statement specifying the factual basis for the preliminary complaint and presenting any available supporting evidence.

ACTION BY THE ACADEMIC DEAN

Section 4. (a) The Academic Dean shall review the preliminary complaint in question and shall dismiss the preliminary complaint if

(1) the preliminary complaint does not allege actions which could constitute capricious grading as defined in section 2;

(2) the preliminary complaint was not filed within the period of time required under section 3(c)(1);

(3) the student has not conferred with the instructor required under section 3(b); or

(4) the student has filed the same, or substantially the same, preliminary complaint under another formal grievance procedure.

(b)(1) In the event the preliminary complaint is not dismissed under subsection (a) of this section, the Academic Dean shall seek to resolve the dispute informally.

(2) In so doing, the Academic Dean shall not seek to determine the validity of the preliminary complaint or to determine whether capricious grading occurred, but shall act as a good-faith mediator in attempting to facilitate a mutually acceptable resolution between student and instructor.

(c)(1) In the event the Academic Dean is unable to facilitate such a resolution, he shall determine whether substantial evidence exists to support the preliminary complaint.

(2) In the event the Academic Dean determines that no such evidence exists, he shall dismiss the preliminary complaint.

(3) In the event the Academic Dean determines that such evidence does exist, he shall refer the preliminary complaint to the Committee on Academic Integrity.

(d)(1) Not later than 10 week days following such referral, the student shall file with the Academic Dean a written complaint specifying in full the basis for the allegation of capricious grading and presenting any available supporting evidence.

(2) The Academic Dean shall immediately transmit the complaint and any accompanying materials to the instructor.

(3) The instructor shall transmit an answer to the complaint to the Academic Dean not later than 10 weekdays following receipt of such complaint.

(4) Not later than 20 week days following the date on which the instructor’s answer is transmitted under paragraph (3) of this subsection, the Academic Dean shall transmit to the Committee on Academic Integrity, the student, and the instructor

(A) a copy of the complaint, answer, and any accompanying materials;

(B) a statement summarizing actions taken by the Academic Dean under subsection (b) of this section.

ACTION BY THE COMMITTEE ON ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

Section 5. (a)(1) The Committee on Academic Integrity shall determine whether a complaint filed under section 4(d)(1) of this Policy is supported by clear and convincing evidence.

(2) If the Committee determines in the negative, it shall dismiss the complaint.

(3) If the Committee determines in the affirmative, the Committee shall order an appropriate remedy, which

(A) may include the awarding of a new grade in the course but only in the event of exceptional circumstances involving gross negligence or intentional disregard of the prohibition in section 1 of this Policy; and

(B) may not constitute a reprimand or other disciplinary action against either the instructor or the student.

(4) The Registrar shall immediately record any new grade awarded by the Committee under clause (A) of paragraph (3) of this subsection upon notification in writing by the Chair of the Committee that such new grade has been awarded.

(b) The Committee shall exercise due regard for the discretion accorded each instructor to evaluate student performance in accordance with principles of academic freedom, and, accordingly, shall not consider whether the grade in question was awarded incorrectly or erroneously.

PROCEDURE BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

Section 6. (a)(1) The Committee shall, prior to considering any complaint on the merits

(A) determine not later than 20 week days after the date on which materials were transmitted under section 4(d)(4) of this Policy whether it may exercise jurisdiction to do so; and

(B) invite the student, instructor, and Academic Dean to present arguments in this regard in a form and manner that the Committee deems appropriate.

(2) To the extent feasible, the Chair of the Committee shall ensure that the identities of the student and instructor remain confidential unless and until the Committee finds that it may exercise jurisdiction under paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(b) If the Committee finds that it may exercise jurisdiction under subsection (a) of this section, it shall convene to consider the complaint on the merits not later than 10 week days thereafter.

(c)(1) The student and instructor may attend any meeting of the Committee that the Committee designates as directed at the finding of facts.

(2) In any such meeting, the student and instructor

(A) may present any evidence relevant to the manner in which the grade was assigned, including testimony by other persons;

(B) shall have an opportunity to question or refute any evidence presented; and

(C) may each be accompanied a person of his or her choice to assist in presenting evidence or advocating on his or her behalf.

(3) The Committee shall determine the admissibility of evidence and shall adopt rules of procedure.

(d)(1) The Committee shall make no decision in the absence of a quorum.

(2) A quorum shall consist of a majority of members of the Committee.

(e) All meetings of the Committee shall be closed to the public, and, except as authorized herein, no member of the Committee may disclose publicly any information, written or oral, that is learned, transmitted, or received in the course of the Committee’s consideration of a complaint under this Policy.

(f) The Committee shall transmit its decision in writing to the student, the instructor, and the Academic Dean.

(g) The Committee shall proceed as expeditiously as possible.