The basis for grades, as stated in Senate Policy 47-20, is "...the instructor's judgment of the student's scholastic achievement..." Occasionally, a disagreement arises in the assignment of a grade. A student who wishes to question or challenge the grade assigned in a course must first discuss grading practices and assignments with the instructor. It is expected that the student and instructor will try to eliminate any misunderstandings and will attempt to work out any disagreements over grades. Some examples of the basis for a legitimate disagreement could include, but are not limited to the following:
1. The instructor did not inform the student of the basis for calculation of grades as required in 47-20.
2. The instructor did not calculate the student's grade in accordance with the instructor's stated policy for calculating grades.
3. There is an error in the computation of the grade that was not corrected.
4. The student, through no fault of his or her own, was not provided with the same opportunity to complete the requirements for the course in terms, for example, of time, access to materials, or access to the instructor as the other students.
On the rare occasion that a student and instructor fail to resolve the grade dispute through informal means, the student may request that the head of the academic program offering the course review the issue and take appropriate action to mediate and seek resolution. If this does not resolve the dispute, the student who is an undergraduate may seek further review from the associate dean for undergraduate education, or the director of academic affairs for the college offering the course. The student who is a graduate student may request the same of the associate dean for graduate studies of the college/school offering the course.
If resolution does not occur, the student may request a formal grade adjudication process by completing a Grade Adjudication Petition Form and returning it to the associate dean or director of academic affairs responsible for undergraduate education, or the associate dean for graduate studies. The request form must be submitted within five weeks of the beginning of the semester immediately following the semester in which the grade was received. The basis for a grade adjudication petition is limited to cases in which a grade assignment does not conform to Senate Policy 47-20 and therefore, the petition must present clear evidence that the assignment of the grade was based upon factors other than the academic judgment of the instructor.
The associate dean or director of academic affairs will review the petition to determine if the student's complaint provides evidence that the instructor's assignment of the grade is in violation of Senate Policy 47-20.
No Violation of Senate Policy 47-20
If the associate dean/director of academic affairs determines that the assignment of the grade does not violate Senate Policy 47-20, he/she will notify the student and the grade will stand.
Violation of Senate Policy 47-20
If the associate dean/director of academic affairs believes that the assignment of the grade does violate Senate Policy 47-20, he/she will solicit a response from the instructor. The instructor must respond within ten (10) days. If upon review of the instructor's response the associate dean/director of academic affairs concludes that the grade assignment does not conform to Senate Policy 47-20, he/she will determine a course of action that may include a recommendation for an amended grade to be determined. The associate dean/director of academic affairs will then provide the student and the instructor with notification of the instructor's response and a brief summary of the reasons for the recommended course of action.
If the grade assignment was found to violate Senate Policy 47-20 and neither the student nor the instructor wishes to appeal the determination, the college associate dean will determine an appropriate grade or appoint an ad hoc committee of 2-3 faculty with appropriate expertise in the disciplinary field. The ad hoc committee will recommend a grade. The college associate dean will notify the student and instructor of the recommended grade and the supporting rationale in accordance with Senate Policy 47-20. The recommended grade will be provided by the college associate dean to the dean of the college offering the course for transmittal to the University Registrar (if the grade change is recommended).
If the grade assignment was found to violate Senate Policy 47-20, the student or the instructor may appeal the determination of the associate dean/director of academic affairs to the dean of the college offering the course. An appeal to the dean must be made in writing within ten (10) days of the receipt of the notification from the associate dean/director.
The petition and any relevant findings of the college associate dean will be forwarded to the dean of the college offering the course.
If the dean finds that the grade assignment does not conform with Senate Policy 47-20, the dean will appoint an ad hoc committee of 2-3 faculty with appropriate expertise in the disciplinary field to determine and recommend a grade. The dean will then determine the grade and transmit it to the Registrar.
If the dean finds that the grade assignment does conform to Senate Policy 47-20, the original grade assignment will stand and the adjudication process is concluded.
Approved: ACUI (3-10-83)
Endorsed: Senate (5-3-83)
Revised: ACUE (10-1-92)
Endorsed: Senate (4-13-93)
Approved: ACUE (7-6-00)
Approved: ACUE (7-5-01)
Revised: ACUE (1-9-03)
Revised: ACUE (11-2-06)
The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. Please consult a Penn State academic adviser for more detailed information. Penn State is an affirmative action, equal opportunity university.