Instructors are expected to set fair and consistent grading procedures for their respective courses. The following policy provides students a means to contest a final course grade received in a credit-bearing course if a student believes fair and consistent grading procedures have not been followed. A final grade is only subject to review when
1) a procedural error has been discovered in the calculation or recording of a grade, or
2) there is a concern that the grade was not fairly given. Disagreeing with grading policies or an instructor’s assessment of work is not a basis for a grade grievance.
Occasionally, the basis of a student’s grade grievance is that the student was subjected to harassment or discrimination. It is not the function of the Grade Grievance process to evaluate claims of discrimination or harassment. Please contact the Office for Institutional Equity (OIE), and the Sweetland Associate Director at SweetlandWriting.GradeGrievance@umich.edu who will evaluate whether the grade grievance should be paused until the OIE matter is resolved.
Two principles should be clearly understood as part of the context of any grade grievance:
A grade given by a faculty member may be changed only by that faculty member (Faculty Code B 5.01). Sweetland’s grade grievance procedures are intended to result in a recommendation, for or against a change, to the appropriate faculty member.
While Sweetland wishes to see demonstrably unfair grades rectified, it will not automatically invoke the full procedure described below for every grade grievance. For example, a grade grievance based on the argument that one instructor's grading standards are stricter than those of others will normally not be pursued.
When a student believes a grade is unfair and wishes to invoke the Sweetland grade grievance procedure, these steps are to be followed:
1. Meet with the Instructor
The student should first confer with their instructor to make sure that both are aware of all the pertinent facts and to identify the issues that are in dispute.
This inquiry should take place according to the timeline at the bottom of this policy. If, after this inquiry, the student is not satisfied with the instructor’s response, the student may choose to initiate a formal grade grievance. If the instructor has left the University, is on approved leave, or does not respond to the student after a reasonable effort (within 10 business days), the student may also proceed directly to Step 2 and initiate a formal grade grievance.
2. Write an appeal to the Associate Director
If the first step does not lead to a resolution, the student should then write a letter to the Sweetland Associate Director, detailing
- the facts and the basis for the allegation of arbitrary grading, including specific evidence (e.g. course syllabus, graded work) that supports the allegation,
- a summary of the outcome of the initial inquiry to the course instructor, indicating what aspects are in dispute and any documentation to support the initial inquiry with the instructor, and
- the desired outcome for the grievance.
This letter should be sent to SweetlandWriting.GradeGrievance@umich.edu along with both clean copies and original graded copies of all their written work for the course, and any other relevant work (e.g., new media assignments).
This written statement must be submitted according to the timeline at the bottom of this policy or the grievance will be considered resolved.
3. Sweetland’s Associate Director requests written response from the Instructor
Upon receipt of the written grade grievance, the Associate Director will notify the Assistant Dean of Student Academic Affairs of the complaint within 5 business days of receipt of the complaint. The Associate Director will then ask the instructor to provide a written summary stating how the final grade was determined and responding to the specific claims made by the student.
4. Sweetland’s Associate Director reviews materials
If the Associate Director determines there is insufficient evidence for the grade grievance, the matter is closed and the original grade stands. There is no further appeal beyond this point. The Associate Director will communicate this in writing to the student within 15 university business days from receipt of the complaint. A copy of the response will also be sent to the Assistant Dean of Student Academic Affairs at the same time.
If the Associate Director determines that the objections presented by the student point to possible unfairness, they will recommend to the Director of the Sweetland Center for Writing that a Grade Grievance Committee be appointed. Such a committee normally will consist of the Director, Associate Director, at least one other faculty member, and at least one undergraduate.
5. Hearing with the Grade Grievance Committee, when necessary
Within two weeks of the appointment of the Grade Grievance Committee, the committee will arrange a hearing at which both parties to the dispute will be asked to appear. No additional persons will be permitted at the hearing without the advance approval of the committee, which, if it agrees to such persons, will see to it that the same privileges are extended to both sides. Prior to this hearing, both the student filing the grade grievance and the respective instructor will be provided with copies of the written student complaint and the instructor’s summary.
The purpose of the hearing will be to allow the committee to inform itself as fully as possible. The student will first be asked to present the basis of their complaint, the instructor will then be asked to explain how grades were determined, followed by an open period for questions to all parties.
The hearing should occur no more than 60 days after submission of the complaint.
6. Grade Grievance Committee Decisions
After the hearing, the Grade Grievance Committee will have 10 University business days to arrive at a recommendation.
If the committee decides that a grade change is not warranted, the Associate Director will inform the student and the instructor in writing and the matter is considered closed.There is no further appeal beyond this point.
If the committee recommends a grade change, the Associate Director will inform the instructor. The instructor will be asked to respond in writing within five University business days to the Associate Director indicating whether or not she/he will abide by the recommendation from the committee. If the instructor agrees to a grade change, the Associate Director will inform the student in writing of the instructor’s decision and the student’s final grade will be changed.
If the instructor does not accept the recommendation to change the grade, the original grade stands. The Associate Director will inform the student in writing of this decision and the matter is considered closed. There is no further appeal beyond this point.
7. If any of the deadlines in the timeline below are not met by the student, the grievance will be considered invalid and closed, unless, due to extenuating circumstances, the LSA Assistant Dean of Student Academic Affairs grants an extension of time. If you believe there was an extenuating circumstance (i.e. hospitalization, extended leave for health reasons) please contact the LSA Assistant Dean of Student Academic Affairs (email@example.com) for more information.
Timeline for the Sweetland Grade Grievance Policy
Step 1 - Meet with instructor to discuss initial grade grievance
Fall Grade - First 15 University business days of following Winter Semester
Winter/Spring/Summer Grade - First 15 University business days of following Fall Semester
For an “incomplete” or a grade submitted after the next term begins -- First 15 University business days after the official posting of the grade
Step 2 - Submit a written statement to the Associate Director
Fall Grade - First 30 University business days of following Winter Semester
Winter/Spring/Summer Grade - First 30 University business days of following Fall Semester
For an “incomplete” or a grade submitted after the next term begins -- First 30 University business days after the official posting of the grade
Steps 3-4 - Associate Director reviews materials from the student and instructor
Within 15 university business days of the receipt of the complaint, the Associate Director will communicate to the student whether the grade grievance evidence is sufficient to hold a hearing or not
Steps 5-6 - Grade Grievance Hearing
The Grade Grievance hearing will take place no more than 60 days after the submission of the complaint
Step 7 - Grade Grievance Committee decision announced
After the hearing, the Grade Grievance committee will submit a recommendation to the Associate Director within 10 University business days