The student grade appeal policy applies to final course grades only. A student is defined as any person enrolled full- or part-time in credit courses at the College. During the course session, students at the College have the right to receive timely information from their instructor, typically during office hours, regarding the results of material submitted for a grade. Moreover, students have the right to expect and receive an up-to-date assessment of comparative standing in the class on her or his graded material at any time, provided that the student is willing to meet or have a phone conversation with the instructor during office hours. The grade appeal procedure applies only to final course grades not to grades on individual tests, examinations, reports, and other assignments prior to the posting of the final course grade. Students are encouraged to regularly meet with their instructor or meet with the academic dean if desired. Therefore, this policy applies to a student who is, or has recently been, enrolled in a credit course and believes that his or her final grade in a course was determined in an unfair, arbitrary, or capricious manner. A student has the right to appeal a final course grade for allegations that (1) the methods or criteria for evaluating academic performance as stated in the class syllabus or as communicated by the instructor by e-mail or Canvas announcement were not adhered to in determining the final grade; (2) the instructor applied grading criteria unfairly or arbitrarily; and/ or (3) that the instructor so exceeded his or her discretion in evaluating academic performance in the class as to be found unreasonable by the instructor’s peers at Rappahannock Community College.
A grade appeal should be raised and settled as quickly as possible. Within 10 business days following the posting of the final grade in the Student Information System (SIS), the student must contact the instructor and request an appointment to discuss his or her concerns regarding the final course grade. (A business day is defined as a Monday through Friday when the College is open.) An attempt should be made to resolve the concern informally. The faculty member must submit a report to his or her dean and the student within 48 hours following the meeting with the student to inform the dean of the meeting and the outcome of the meeting. If the faculty member is no longer employed by the College or is otherwise unavailable or unresponsive, the student may go directly to the academic dean for assistance.
If the matter cannot be resolved at Level 1, the student may submit a written appeal to the faculty member’s academic dean within five business days following the meeting with the faculty member. The appeal must contain a statement of the issue, a description of any attempts to resolve the problem, relevant information and documentation, and the resolution sought. The only issues that can be reviewed on appeal are those asserted in the filing of the initial appeal. No new issues can be raised or heard during the appeal review process. Should the dean also be the instructor, the student should submit the appeal to the Dean of Student Development, who will forward it to a Grade Appeal Hearing Panel composed of teaching faculty.
If the student is not satisfied with the decision of the academic dean at Level 2, the student has the right to request that their concern be reviewed by a Grade Appeal Hearing Panel within five business days of the formal written notification of the dean’s decision. The student’s written appeal must contain a statement of the issue, a description of any attempts to resolve the problem, relevant information and documentation, and the resolution sought. The only issues that can be reviewed on appeal are those asserted in the filing of the initial appeal. No new issues can be raised or addressed during the hearing.
The membership of Grade Appeal Hearing Panels is chosen the President of the College and consists of three teaching faculty with fair representation from all areas of instruction
Within 10 business days of making an appeal, a student who has made an appeal will receive written notification from the Dean of Student Development of the time, place, and date of the hearing at least five business days before the hearing. The student may elect to not appear at a hearing, but the hearing will be held in his or her absence. If a student elects to not appear at the hearing, the student may submit a signed statement to the Dean of Student Development at least 48 hours prior to the hearing. Hearings will be closed to the public. No tape recorder or other recording devices may be present or utilized by the student during the hearing unless the student has a documented disability necessitating the use of electronic devices. Prior authorization for the use of any recording device must be submitted and secured from the Dean of Student Development at least 48 hours in advance of the hearing. The student will be permitted to speak at the hearing and to present evidence, including witnesses. The student may be accompanied by one other individual at the hearing, but this person cannot participate in the hearing. The Dean of Student Development and the student may request the appearance of other students, and the graded material of other students, as well as other faculty, at the College. The chair of the committee and the student may direct questions to such witnesses.
Note: Any student has the right to decline the request from the student filing the grievance or from the Dean of Student Development to provide information and/or appear at the hearing.
The hearing panel will make a decision determined by a majority ruling and take one of two actions:
- Affirm the appeal and recommend a change in the grade to the appropriate academic dean and instructor for the course, or
- Deny the appeal and recommend the grade stands as originally assigned.
The student will receive written notification of the decision from the Dean of Student Development within five business days of the conclusion of the hearing.
Appeals to the Vice President of Instruction
A student may appeal the decision of the hearing panel in writing to the Vice President of Instruction within five business days of the receipt of the decision. The role of the Vice President in the appeal process will be to review the entire grade integrity appeal and proceedings to ensure that the process was conducted according to current College policies and procedures. The Vice President will provide the student with a written notification of findings and a decision within 10 business days of the receipt of the appeal. If the Vice President finds that College policies and procedures were followed, the decision rendered shall be considered final. If the Vice President finds that College policies and procedures were not followed, the Vice President will make a recommendation to the President to appoint and convene a new hearing panel to re-hear the appeal. The decision of the panel in the second hearing will be the final decision for the matter. The student will receive written notification of the panel’s decision from the Dean of Student Development within five business days of the conclusion of the hearing.
Records of Grade Appeals
All records of grade appeals will remain confidential and will be maintained in the Office of the Dean of Student Development. Such information will not be available to unauthorized persons without the express written permission of the student, court subpoena or other exceptions made under the conditions specified in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. Students who wish to file a complaint are expected to follow the Student Grievance Process for Academic and Non-Academic Decisions as outlined above. As a last resort, students may file a formal complaint with the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV). Detailed information about SCHEV’s formal student complaint procedure, the types of complaints they will not address, or to file a written student complaint form with the agency can be found on the SCHEV Student Complaint website.
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