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Grade Grievances

The Department upholds the principle that the instructor in a course is always in the best position to determine the quality of students' work. The Department of Mathematics also has confidence in the qualifications and good judgment of its faculty. Nonetheless, where it can be proven that a clerical error, a procedural fault, or a capricious or biased appraisal has resulted in the awarding of an unfair grade, the Department will do everything in its power to correct the error. It must be understood, however, that only the instructor of a course can determine the substantive value of a student's performance in that course and only the instructor can change the grade.

Furthermore, while the Department wishes to see demonstrably unfair grades rectified, it will not automatically invoke the full procedure described below for every grievance. For example a grievance based on the argument that one instructor's grading standards are stricter than those of others will normally not be pursued. Nor will minor imprecision in grading, such as between a B– and a B, normally be considered an appropriate grievance.

The first step in inquiring about the accuracy of a final grade should be directed to the lead instructor of the course.  “Lead instructor” is to be understood as the student’s classroom instructor, except in the case of the large multi-section courses math 105,115,116. For these courses the lead instructor is the course coordinator.  The initial inquiry into the accuracy of the grade should take place before the fifteenth University business day of the first full term (Fall or Winter) following the term in which the disputed grade was issued. If, after this inquiry, the student is not satisfied with the instructor’s response, the student may choose to initiate a formal grade grievance.

To initiate the formal grade grievance process, the student should contact the Associate Chair for Education of the Mathematics Department. The appeal should be filed (a) by the end of the first eight weeks of classes of the first full term (Fall or Winter) following the completion of the course, or (b) within eight weeks of the issuance of the grade received by making up a grade of "Incomplete." Requests to file complaints at later times will be considered in unusual circumstances.

The student must convey in writing the basis for the complaint, with specific evidence in support of the argument that the grade either was given in error or was unfairly determined. This formal complaint also should summarize the outcome of the initial inquiry to the course instructor, indicating what aspects are in dispute. Upon receipt of the written complaint, the Associate Chair will ask the instructor to provide a written summary restating how the final grade was determined and to respond to the specific claims made by the student.

After receiving this information from both the student and the instructor, the Associate Chair will then determine if sufficient evidence exists to convene the Department’s Grade Grievance Committee. If the Associate Chair determines that there is insufficient evidence for the grade grievance, the matter is considered closed, and the original grade stands. In the case when the Associate Chair determines that sufficient evidence does exist, a two-step procedure will be followed:

Step 1

A discussion is held between the student and the instructor in the presence of the Associate Chair. If the discussion results in a mutually agreed resolution of the problem (i.e. retention of the current grade or change of grade), the Associate Chair will convey in writing the content of the agreed resolution to both instructor and student. If the problem is not resolved, Step 2 is taken.

Step 2

A review committee is appointed by the Associate Chair. The Committee will consist of the Associate Chair and

  • Two other recent instructors of the course in question. If the course was taught by a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), then one instructor should be a GSI and the other should be a faculty member, preferably a mentor in the case of a mentored course. 

  • Two students from the complainant’s peer group; the students ordinarily will have completed the course in question. 


The review committee meets together with the complainant and the instructor (if in residence). The Associate Chair chairs the review session. 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 in advance of the formal 
hearing. During the formal hearing, the student will be asked to first present the basis of his or her complaint; the instructor will then be asked to present his or her explanation for how grades were determined. Following an open period of questions to all parties, i.e., the student, the instructor and the Grade Grievance committee members, the formal hearing will be adjourned. 


The Grade Grievance Committee will then have ten University business days to determine its recommendation and submit a written report. The Associate Chair has a vote only in the case of a tie. The recommendation may be for no change in grade or for a specified increase or decrease in grade. 


If the Grade Grievance Committee decides that a grade change is not warranted, the Associate Chair will convey this in writing to the student and the instructor. The original grade will stand and the matter is considered closed. 


If the committee recommends a grade change, the Associate Chair will communicate that decision directly to the instructor. The instructor will then be asked to respond in writing within five University business days to the Associate Chair indicating whether or not he/she will abide by the Grade Grievance Committee’s recommendation. If the instructor agrees to a grade change, the Associate Chair will inform the student in writing of the instructor’s decision and the student’s final course grade will be changed. The matter is considered closed. 


If an instructor does not accept the Grade Grievance Committee’s recommendation to change the final grade, the original grade will stand. By LSA College policy, a final course grade rests solely with the instructor and, as such, a course grade cannot be changed without the instructor’s consent. When this occurs, the Associate Chair will convey in writing this decision to the student. The matter is considered closed. There is no appeal beyond the Department.