Grading and the Reconsideration of Grades
November 5, 1979
November 22, 2007
1.1 This policy sets forth the basis of grading practices at SFU and establishes:
1.1.1 the basis on which grades will be assigned;
1.1.2 the responsibilities of the Instructor and the Chair with respect to grading; and
1.1.3 the responsibilities of the Student, the Instructor, the Chair and the Dean with respect to the reconsideration of a grade, and the role of Senate in any such reconsideration.
1.2 On the basis of 1.1 above, this policy is intended to ensure the maintenance of high academic standards, reasonably consistent and equitable evaluation practices within and across courses, and appropriate procedures on the reconsideration of grades.
1.3 This Policy is not intended to restrict unduly the basis on which final grades for a course are assigned, but to emphasize that students, the Instructor and the Chair should know in advance the general basis on which grades will be awarded. This may include, in various combinations, such items as results on a mid-term examination, a final examination, frequent tests throughout the term, classroom attendance/participation, projects, term papers, essays, laboratory work, evidence of extensive reading and so forth.
2.1 The Basis on which Grades Shall Be Assigned
2.1.1 Grades shall reflect demonstrated achievement in meeting course objectives.
2.1.2 The general procedures to be followed in arriving at the final grade shall be clearly communicated to students and the Chair in advance. This may include, in various combinations, such items as results on a mid-term examination, a final examination, frequent tests throughout the term, classroom attendance and participation, projects, term papers, essays, laboratory work, evidence of extensive reading and so forth.
2.1.3 Students shall be advised of the general manner in which a grade will be assigned for any specific work required throughout the term. For example, if an essay is to be graded for style, format or documentation, the student shall be informed of that.
2.1.4 Where a department has guidelines regarding the expected distribution of grades for particular courses or for a type of course, those guidelines will be published prior to the beginning of the course(s) and shall include a rationale for that distribution.
2.2 Grading – Responsibilities of the Instructor
2.2.1 The Instructor is responsible for providing the Department Chair (normally six weeks in advance of the start of the semester) with a course outline and a statement setting out the course requirements and how these will relate to course grades. If circumstances subsequently require a change in those requirements, the Instructor will provide students with a statement setting out those changes within the first week of classes. Course outlines usually should advise students how marks will be allocated among such activities as final exams, mid-term exams, tests, term papers, tutorial participation, projects, laboratory work and any other requirements.
2.2.2 The Instructor will grade and return as promptly as possible mid-term, essays and other course requirements.
2.2.3 The Instructor will provide the Chair, upon request, with a clear rationale for whatever grading approach is proposed.
2.2.4 If a Department Chair is unwilling to accept a proposed grading approach, the Instructor has recourse to the Faculty Dean, whose resolution of the matter will be considered final.
2.2.5 The Instructor is responsible for maintaining clear records of the marks given, to weight those marks to establish a final grade, and to ensure those records and any student work retained (exams, essays, etc.) are kept for at least one year following the end of the semester. Where a student requests the reconsideration of a grade, the Instructor is responsible to retain records and student work for one year following the final resolution of that reconsideration. Such records and material will be available to the Department Chair on request, and are to be filed with and retained by the Department for the subsequent semester(s) that the instructor is absent. Upon request, a student shall be given access to his or her own work, as well as information about the evaluation, grading and weighting of it.
2.2.6 The Instructor is responsible for attempting to resolve each request from a student to reconsider a grade, and to cooperate with the Department Chair in the resolution of any request the Instructor is unable to resolve directly.
2.3 Grading – Responsibilities of the Chair
2.3.1 The Chair is responsible for obtaining from Instructors course outlines, including statements of course requirements and how they will relate to course grades, and for making these outlines available to students (normally six weeks in advance of the start of the course).
2.3.2 The Chair is responsible for considering requests from Instructors to assign letter grades on some basis other than that stated in 2.1.2 above and to approve those requests in which the evidence suggests the alternative approach is warranted.
2.3.3 In special cases (i.e., after the first week of classes), the Chair is responsible for considering requests from Instructors to assign letter grades on some basis other than that stated in 2.1.2, having considered the merits of the request, to approve or disapprove it.
2.3.4 The Chair is responsible for reviewing with the Instructor the grades assigned in each course to determine whether:
a) grading has been done with reference to academic achievement (unless some other basis has been approved in advance);
b) that it is consistent with the course requirements and basis stated in advance; and
c) to countersign the grade sheet for a course when he/she is satisfied that students in the course have been graded appropriately.
2.3.5 When a Chair refuses to sign an Instructor's grade sheet, it is expected that the Chair and the Instructor will do everything possible to resolve the difference and, failing that, the Instructor will have recourse to the Faculty Dean, whose resolution of the matter will be considered final.
2.3.6 The Chair is responsible for reviewing grading practices from time to time in consultation with all faculty members of the department, for encouraging the department to consider issues related to grading, and for encouraging consistency in grading practices across the department.
2.3.7 When an Instructor and a Student are unable to reach agreement on the reconsideration of a grade, the Chair is responsible for assisting them to achieve a fair reconsideration of a grade.
2.4 Grading – Responsibilities of the Student
2.4.1 A Student is responsible for retaining exams and assignments that are returned in case the Student wishes to appeal a grade.
2.4.2 A Student who is unclear about the requirements for a course, or about the basis on which a grade will be assigned, or who is concerned about the marking of a particular assignment, is expected to seek clarification or to express his/her concern to the Instructor in a timely manner, normally within 10 days of receiving the information.
2.4.3 A Student who is seeking reconsideration of his/her final grade in a course is expected to raise his/her concern with the Instructor without delay, normally within 10 days of the release of the final grade.
2.4.4 The reconsideration of a grade may result in the grade being raised, lowered or remaining unchanged.
2.4.5 In the event that a Student is unable to contact the Instructor, or does not receive a timely reply from the Instructor, or wishes to pursue further a request for reconsideration of a grade after receiving a response from the Instructor, the Student may present in writing his/her request and supporting reasons for it to the Chair. Such a request will normally be submitted within 60 days of the release of grades.
2.5 When Reconsideration of a Grade is Requested
2.5.1 At each step in the process of responding to a student request to reconsider or appeal a grade decision, the Instructor, Department Chair, Dean and Chair of Senate shall respond in a timely manner, normally within 10 days of receiving the request.
2.5.2 When a Student has requested a grade be reconsidered, it is the Student's responsibility to provide to the Chair all the relevant work returned by the Instructor, and it is the Instructor’s responsibility to provide to the Chair all relevant work which has been retained.
2.5.3 A Student who is concerned that his/her request for reconsideration has been inappropriately addressed at the departmental level may convey his/her concern to the Dean. The Dean will review the events and:
a) where he/she is satisfied that no new evidence has been presented and that judicious and proper procedures have been followed throughout, will confirm the grade awarded at the departmental level;
b) where significant evidence appears not to have been appropriately considered at the departmental level, the Dean may refer the reconsideration back to the Chair with instructions;
c) where, in his/her judgment, the matter cannot be resolved at the departmental level, the Dean may initiate reconsideration by alternative means.
2.5.4 The Chair shall first seek to resolve the concern through consultation with the Student and the Instructor. If the matter cannot be resolved during this consultation, the Chair will arrange for an appropriately qualified person (or persons) to reevaluate the work and establish a grade, or to take such other steps as are necessary. Should the student request anonymity in such a re-evaluation, reasonable steps shall be taken to ensure it.
2.5.5 The decision of the Dean shall be final, subject only to an appeal to Senate. Such appeal may go forward only with the permission of the Chair of Senate on clear evidence satisfactory to her/him that there have been improper procedures in reconsideration as undertaken. The Chair of Senate periodically will report to Senate on the disposition and nature of such requests to appeal to Senate which have not gone forward to that body.
2.6 Retention of Examinations and other Records
2.6.1 In a course which includes a final examination, the marked examinations shall be retained by the Instructor. If the Instructor is to be away from campus, all student work that was kept as well as records used to establish a final grade are to be filed with and retained by the department for at least one year following the semester in which they were written. Should a request for the reconsideration of a grade still be pending longer than one year later, the marked examinations and other student work kept for that course will be retained as long as it is pending plus one year after a final decision or resolution is reached.
3.1 This Policy applies to all courses offered by Simon Fraser University and for which a grade is assigned based on work submitted by students.
4.1 Roles and responsibilities are set out in section 2 of the Policy above.
“Dean” means Dean of the Faculty responsible for offering the course.
“Instructor” means the faculty member, sessional instructor or other person with primary responsibility to grade the work of students within the course.
“Chair” means the Chair of the department offering the course for which a grade is being assessed and/or reconsideration of a grade is being requested.
Records created as a result of actions under this Policy will be managed in accordance with a Records Retention Schedule and Disposal Authority (RRSDA). The University Archivist is responsible for approving all RRSDAs.
This policy should be read in conjunction with the following University policies:
I 10.09 Retention and Disposal of Student Exams or Assignments