Appeals Procedure

Grade Grade Appeals 

Note: This policy was revised and approved by the Faculty Senate on October 4, 2022 as FS Res # 22-53, and received the Chancellor’s approval on November 9, 2022. It has been updated here to enable alignment between the ECU Faculty Manual and the ECU Undergraduate Catalog.

I. Purpose

This grade appeal policy establishes a process by which undergraduate students can contest a course grade that they believe has been awarded in a manner inconsistent with university policies or that has resulted from calculation errors on the part of the instructor. All parties involved in a disagreement over the assignment of grades are expected to engage the process in good faith.

It is critical that students, faculty members, and administrators diligently monitor the grade entry deadline each academic period and be prepared to resolve issues related thereto swiftly since graduation, participation in internships, eligibility for scholarships, and the like, may be at stake. Through careful attention and organization on the part of all parties, ECU’s mechanism for processing grade appeals can facilitate timely resolution while respecting rights and interests of faculty and students. Timeliness not only better prevents negative impacts of alleged grading errors but also allows faculty members to satisfy their responsibility and retain, if they wish, purview throughout the appeal process.

Accurate and appropriate record keeping is also critical to fair and swift resolution of disputes involving grades. According to the Records Retention and Disposition Schedule for the Institutions of the University of North Carolina System, Standard 12.21, academic materials and records documenting examinations, tests, term papers, and other course work completed by but not returned to the student are to be retained for at least one year, or until challenges are resolved. Standard 12.16 applies to “Records documenting grades assigned by instructors to students enrolled in courses.” Such records are to be destroyed in office “3 years after recorded on student’s permanent transcript record.”

II. Statement of Grade Appeal and Jurisdiction for Grade Appeals

The evaluation of student performance is based upon the professional judgment of instructors. The grade assigned by the instructor is assumed to be correct and the student appealing the grade must justify the need for a change of the grade assigned. To prevail in a grade appeal under this policy, the student has the burden of showing at least one of the following:

  1. An error was made in grade computation;
  2. Standards different from those established in written department, school, college, or university policies, if specific policies exist, were used in assigning the grade;
  3. The instructor departed substantially from instructor’s previously articulated, written standards, without notifying students, in determining the grade; or
  4. Grade assigned was arbitrary or capricious based on the information in the record.

If a student’s concern does not relate to the assignment of grades under any of the above claims, other policies collected here may provide an opportunity for addressing student concerns.

III. Grade Appeal Process

A grade appeal must be initiated within 48 hours following the “Grades Due” deadline in the academic calendar. A grade appeal is initiated when the student requests that the faculty member review the assigned grade by sending a request in writing by email from their university email account to the university email account of the faculty member and the unit administrator (i.e., department chair, school director) of the unit offering the course. Failure to do so will be considered a forfeiture of the student’s right to pursue a grade appeal.

The grade appeal policy is structured so that the instructor will make a determination as to whether they will meet the timeline for responses and actively participate in the grade appeal resolution processes specified below. If the instructor determines they will not participate, because of travel plans, the conclusion of their contract, or other reasons, their unit administrator will act on their behalf. Instructors that determine that they will not be available to address the grade appeal per this policy must inform their unit administrator within 24 hours of receiving the student’s appeal so the unit administrator can perform the role of instructor. To be considered, relevant material should be provided to the unit administrator as close to that 24 hour window as possible.

If the instructor is non-responsive, the unit administrator will act in lieu of the instructor of record for the purpose of grade appeals.

In any case that the unit administrator is acting in lieu of the instructor, access to the grade book will be granted for the appeal in accordance with Senate Resolution #20-83 and the unit administrator will apprise all parties of the final resolution to the appeal.

Step 1. Meeting between Student and Instructor

The first step to resolve differences between an instructor and student concerning a grade involves a virtual or face-to-face meeting between the parties not later than 96 hours after the “Grades Due” deadline. During the meeting, the student shall be provided the opportunity to state their position and provide evidence to support the grade appeal. Many cases can be resolved at this stage by mutual listening.

When the unit administrator is acting in lieu of the instructor, it may take some time to become acquainted with the record, thus, the initial meeting with the student may occur at any time within the first seven days following the “Grades Due” deadline. In these cases, the unit administrator will designate a member of the unit with an administrative role to serve as unit administrator for the purpose of the grade appeal.

If the unit administrator is the originally assigned instructor for the course, the dean’s designee (i.e., a member of the dean’s staff assigned to grade appeals) will appoint an individual with administrative role (program director, assistant/associate dean, etc.) to act in lieu of the unit administrator for purposes of these procedures.

Step 2. Consultation with Unit Administrator

A. Written Statement of Appeal

If the instructor and student cannot resolve the appeal, and the student wishes to pursue the matter further, a written appeal must be presented to the unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator) in which the course is offered by the end of ten days (240 hours) from the time of the “Grades Due” deadline. The written grade appeal must include the following:

a. A statement addressing how the appeal meets one or more of the four standards necessary for a grade appeal.
b. A description of the outcome of the initial discussion with the instructor, and a statement of what the student considers a fair resolution.
c. Any relevant materials the student would like to be reviewed as part of the appeal process.
d. A copy of the course syllabus and assignment descriptions.

B. Review of Appeal Materials

Following submission of the grade appeal by the student, the unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator) may request additional materials from the student or instructor. The unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator) shall share all materials with the instructor immediately upon receipt to provide the instructor the opportunity to evaluate and respond. Additional grading information may be requested from the instructor as part of the record of the grade appeal.

C. Instructor’s Decision

After receiving a copy of the appeal materials from the unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator), the instructor must convey their decision in writing to the unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator) within seven calendar days. The unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator) will discuss this response with the instructor and will provide the student with written notification of the outcome of this step within 48 hours of receiving the instructor’s response.

In the event that the instructor does not submit a response to the unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator), does not provide grades or other material relevant to the appeal, or otherwise declines to participate at any point in the process, the appeal will be presented to the Grade Appeal Committee for resolution.

Step 3. Appeal to Grade Appeal Committee

  1. Statement of Appeal. If after the review of the written notification of the outcome from the unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator) the student wishes to pursue the matter further, the student must submit the appeal record to the dean’s designee within seven calendar days so it can be conveyed to the committee.
  2. The dean’s designee will form a three-member hearing committee that shall include three faculty members from the college: one selected by the student, one selected by the instructor of record (or the unit administrator acting in lieu of the instructor of record), and one appointed by the college dean. In order to adhere to the required timeline, colleges will need to establish or maintain a list of faculty members willing to make themselves available for the process. A hearing will be held within one week. Prior to the hearing, the members of the committee will meet and elect a hearing committee chair who will preside over the hearing and facilitate the drafting and submission of the recommendation. The dean’s designee will be available to the hearing committee as a resource.
  3. Grade Appeal Committee Hearing. The committee members shall be furnished with all relevant materials in the case under consideration as soon as the committee is formed. The hearing, which may be virtual or face-to-face, will be attended by the student, the instructor, the committee, and the dean’s designee. The student and the faculty member will each state their view of the situation, provide documentation, and respond to questions from the committee, the dean’s designee, and each other, as appropriate.
  4. Deliberation of the Committee. The function of the Grade Appeal Committee shall be to evaluate the appeal in terms of the stated grounds for the appeal. A majority shall prevail in the committee. The dean’s designee does not have a vote.
  5. Committee Recommendation. The committee shall present a written recommendation to the dean (or substitute, different from the dean’s designee). The committee’s recommendation may be to make no change to the assigned grade or to raise the assigned grade, but in no case shall the committee recommend a reduction in the student’s grade. The committee shall provide a written justification of its recommendation to the college dean, including minority opinions (when they exist), no later than seven calendar days after the committee’s hearing.
  6. Final Decision by Dean. The college dean shall make the final decision on the grade appeal following receipt of the recommendation from the Grade Appeal Committee. The dean shall inform both the student and the instructor of the decision, in writing, within seven calendar days. The dean shall also inform the student and instructor of the committee’s recommendation and provide both parties with copies of the committee report.
  7. Updating the Academic Record (if applicable). In the case of a change of grade, the dean shall implement the change of grade on the student’s official transcript through the change of grade procedure within 3 days of receiving the Grade Appeal Committee’s Recommendation.
  8. Notification to Other Parties. The college dean shall forward a written record of the results of all grade appeals to the appropriate Vice Chancellor within fourteen calendar days. College deans shall also provide an annual summary to the Faculty Senate of the number of cases heard and the aggregate result of the process.

Hours/Days of Grades Due DeadlineDescription
48 hours (2 days) of Grades Due deadlineDeadline for student to appeal to instructor in writing, copying unit administrator
24 hours (1 day) of instructor’s receipt of appealOptional: Deadline for the instructor to notify unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator) if the instructor will be unavailable to address the grade appeal and turn over relevant material
96 hours (4 days) of Grades Due deadlineDeadline for meeting between student and instructor/person acting in lieu of instructor
168 hours (7 days) of Grades Due deadlineOptional: Deadline for student and unit administrator to meet if the unit administrator acts in lieu of the instructor
240 hours (10 days) of Grades Due deadlineDeadline for student to decide if they will continue the appeal
408 hours (17 days) of Grades Due deadlineDeadline for instructor to render decision to unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator)
456 hours (19 days) of Grades Due deadlineDeadline for unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator) to discuss response with instructor and to convey the instructor’s response to the student.
168 hours (7 days) from receipt of instructor’s decisionDeadline for student to submit an appeal of the instructor’s decision to the unit administrator (or the person serving in lieu of the unit administrator)
168 hours (7 days) from receipt of student’s appealDeadline for hearing
168 hours (7 days) from hearing Deadline for submission of committee’s recommendation
168 hours (7 days) from receipt of recommendationDeadline for dean to notify the student and instructor of final decision