313  Student Grade Appeals

Approved by President
Effective Date: March 31, 2022
Responsible Division: Academic Affairs
Responsible Office:  University Provost
Responsible Officer: Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

I. Purpose and Scope

This policy provides an avenue for Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University) students to appeal a final course grade in cases in which the student alleges that unethical or unprofessional actions by the instructor and/or grading inequities improperly affected the final grade.

II. Definitions

A. Appeal. A request by a student for a determination, by a Grade Appeals Committee, of an assigned grade where unethical or unprofessional actions are alleged to have resulted in improper grading.

B. Instructor. Any member of the teaching staff.

C.  Grade Appeals Committee. The committee established under Policy 32 University Committees.

III.  Appeal Procedures

A.  Level One

1. The student creates a paper or electronic file to present at each level of appeal, to include the following: MTSU Student Grade Appeal Form; complete course syllabus; a written statement addressing the specific reasons, alleged unethical/unprofessional actions, or grading inequities that justify the grade appeal; special circumstances or considerations; course requirements that have been completed, including documentation; and written documentation of each step in the appeal with appropriate signatures testifying to each meeting.

2. Normally, student appeals begin with a conference between the student and the instructor who assigned the grade and held before the 11th business day of the next term. Grades earned in fall or winter term are appealed in the spring term. Grades earned in the spring or in any summer term are appealed in the fall term.

The instructor’s decision must be recorded in writing for the grade appeal file.

3. If the student and the instructor cannot reach a resolution, the appealing student will discuss the case with the instructor’s Department Chair/Director within ten (10) business days of the conference with the involved instructor. If the Department Chair/Director is the person against whom the complaint is lodged, the Dean in whose college the department is located shall assume the duties of the chair/director in the investigation and decision-making.

4. The Department Chair/Director does not have the power to change a grade, but they shall investigate the grading circumstances. Within 10 business days of the conference with the student, they shall record their recommendation in writing and send the recommendation to the student and the instructor. The student must include a copy of the Department Chair's/Director’s recommendation in the appeal file.

B. Level Two (May be initiated only after Level One has been completed)

1. If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of Level One, they may, within fifteen (15) business days following receipt of the Department Chair's/Director's decision, submit the appeal file to the Office of the Provost.

2. Following the student’s submission of the appeal file, the Office of the Provost will notify the instructor and the Department Chair/Director that a formal appeal has been filed and offer the instructor an opportunity to provide a written response to be added to the appeal file. 

3. Written notification of the meeting and of an opportunity to appear before the Grade Appeals Committee will be sent by the committee chair to the student, instructor, and the Department Chair/Director. The committee will receive documents and hear testimony regarding the circumstances and shall render a written decision. A simple majority of members present constitutes a quorum for purposes of reaching a decision. The committee chair will notify the student, instructor, Department Chair/Director, Dean, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, and Registrar of the decision.

4. The committee’s decision is final.

C.  Expedited Appeal Process

1. In the case of extenuating circumstances that directly relate to a student’s ability to remain active in their degree program, the student may formally request an expedited appeal process. No later than five days from the day grades are posted, a student must submit a written request to the chair of the department with a detailed explanation of the reason the appeal must be expedited. The chair will review the request for expedited appeal to determine whether an expedited review is warranted.

a. If the chair believes an expedited review is in order, they will contact the instructor to inform them and to seek their input. If an agreement is reached, the potential review ends.

b. If the instructor and chair agree to an expedited review, the student must assemble the file, complete both Levels One and Two within five (5) days, and submit the complete file to the Office of the Provost.

c. The Provost’s Office will secure the services of appropriate available faculty to hear the appeal and render a decision.

IV.  Miscellaneous

A. The Grade Appeals Committee will be divided by college into four committees, each of which will elect a chair. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs determines which committee will hear the appeal and transmit the appeal documents to the committee chair. Individual committees will not hear appeals originating in courses from its own college but will hear appeals from other colleges.

B. If a student’s financial aid is reduced or not awarded due to the grade being appealed, the MTSU Financial Aid Office may not be able to reinstate the student’s aid because of federal or state deadlines.

C. A student or instructor involved with a grade appeal may discuss the case informally with a member of the faculty or administration, but not with a member of the Grade Appeals Committee. A committee member discussing the grade appeal with the instructor or student concerned is automatically disqualified from any further case proceedings.

D. The number of days indicated at each level above shall be considered the maximum, but every effort should be made to expedite the process.

E. The failure of the student to proceed from Level One of the appeal procedure to Level Two within the prescribed time limits shall be deemed an acceptance of the decision rendered in Level One, thus ending the appeal.

F. A grade appeal may be withdrawn at any level without prejudice. The stated time frames, however, continue to apply if the student restarts the process.

G. All appeal proceedings shall be kept as confidential as may be appropriate at each level.

H. The Grade Appeals Committee shall have reasonable access to all official records for information necessary in making its decision.

Forms:

MTSU Student Grade Appeal Form

Revisions: June 5, 2017 (original); June 20, 2019; March 31, 2022.

Last Reviewed: March 2022.

References: Policy 32 University Committees.