Grade Appeals

The Course Grade Appeal applies when a Western Michigan University student wants to appeal a final grade that has been recorded by the registrar on the student’s academic record. This process is facilitated by the Office of the Ombudsman, and students should call (269) 387-0718 to meet with the ombudsman to begin the process. Specific criteria must be met prior to engaging in the Grade Appeal process, and one of the following bases for appeal must be proven:

  1. Grades were calculated in a manner inconsistent with University policy, the syllabus, or changes to the syllabus.
  2. The grade or grades was or were erroneously calculated.
  3. Grading or performance standards were arbitrarily or unequally applied.
  4. The instructor failed to assign or remove an Incomplete or to initiate a grade change as agreed upon with the student.

A grade appeal cannot be made in response to a grade penalty assessed as a result of an official finding of responsibility for academic integrity violations. Such a finding will have been made through the procedures provided in the academic integrity policy.

In situations involving Nos. 1 through 4 above, there are three steps to the appeal process:

  1. Informal meeting with the instructor: A student is encouraged to begin the appeal process by meeting with the instructor who assigned the grade. Such meetings often help students to understand the grading practices of instructors and often lead to resolution of differences over grades.
  2. Written appeal and conference with the academic unit chair or director: A student must submit a letter requesting an appeal to the academic unit chair or director. This letter must be received by the academic unit chair or director within 60 business days of the last day of the semester or session in which the grade was recorded on a student’s record. The ombudsman or designate may grant an extension should a genuine hardship arise (e.g., illness, death in the immediate family). The letter must identify the basis of the appeal and must state in detail why the student believes that the grade should be changed.

    While a chair or director may not change any grade without permission of the instructor, the chair or director can serve as an intermediary to help the student either halt the appeal process (if there seems no legitimate basis) or proceed to the next step of the process (step 3 below or action outside the Grade Appeal and Program Dismissal Appeal Committee process).

    Following a conference with the student, the chair or director must respond in writing to the student with a copy to both the instructor and the Grade Appeal and Program Dismissal Appeal Committee coordinator within 20 business days. In this letter, the chair or director should confirm the meeting with the student, recap their discussion, and state whether the student has an appeal that meets the established criteria (1, 2, 3, or 4 above). The chair or director cannot change the student’s grade without the instructor’s agreement.

    Note: Grade appeals or other complaints based on charges of discrimination or sexual harassment should be taken to the Office of Institutional Equity or other office, pursuant to other University policies and procedures.
  3. Appeal to committee: After the chair or director has completed the response to the student’s appeal, and regardless of the outcome of step 2, the student may appeal to the Grade Appeal and Program Dismissal Appeal Committee. This appeal must be initiated within 20 business days of the completion of step 2. If the student has requested a meeting with the academic unit chair or director and has not been granted such a meeting within 15 business days of the student’s request, the student may then initiate an appeal to the Grade Appeal and Program Dismissal Appeal Committee. The student will initiate an appeal through the Office of the Ombudsman. The ombudsman will schedule a meeting of the Grade Appeal and Program Dismissal Appeal Committee using procedures determined by the Professional Concerns Committee of the Faculty Senate. The Grade Appeal and Program Dismissal Appeal Committee will consist of at least three members drawn from a panel of faculty established for this purpose. 

In a grade appeal, both the student and the instructor should provide a written statement describing the situation under consideration. An appearance to provide additional information at the appeal by either the instructor or the student may be requested by the appeals committee. Students making an appeal must complete the appeals form as well as the student information form. The ombudsman will contact the instructor to have him or her complete the instructor information form. The Grade Appeal and Program Dismissal Appeal Committee can effectuate a grade change by majority vote. The decision of the hearing panel is final and not subject to appeal.

Instructor unavailable to assign grade

Circumstances may arise that prevent an instructor from assigning a grade in a timely manner. In such instances, the academic unit chair or director will make reasonable efforts to contact and ask the instructor to supply a grade. If these efforts are unsuccessful, the instructor’s academic chair or director will appoint another qualified faculty member to assign the grade.