Grade change goes through teachers first

Haleigh Freier

If there’s anything a college student should fear, it’s the thought of getting a poor grade for the semester. But what if there was a mistake? Or if something inadvertent happened that caused a student to fail a class? There’s actually a process to help fix that.

The Grade Appeal process, formerly known as the Grade Grievance process, can help students get grades changed, but the grade must be appealed within a year of being recorded.

“It starts just as between the teacher and the student, but it can go up to the [Contra Costa Community College] District board, but that’s normally discouraged,” Art History Instructor Ken Alexander explained.

The first step of the process is informal — the student must talk with the teacher who awarded the grade to request a reason why the grade was given. If the teacher agrees with the student of the need for a grade change, steps will be taken to make a grade change in the student’s record.

Students who are unable to contact their teachers because they are no longer working at LMC should contact the department chair for an informational hearing. Department chairs also facilitate meetings between students and teachers who are unable to come to an agreement on the need of a grade change. But if the students and teacher, or department chair, cannot come to mutual agreement on a grade, a student may file a formal grade appeal.

“Having the grade appeal process provides students with an objective review of their concerns/complaints,” said Senior Dean Gail Newman. “ If the instructor that gave the grade doesn’t agree with the student on what the final outcome should be, the grade appeals committee can look at the situation with a fresh set of eyes and provide their objective feedback.”

In the formal appeal the student must fill out a grade appeal form — which can be found in the Admissions Office, Information Center and the Student Life Office — to contest the grade as either a mistake, fraud, bad faith or incompetence.

The completed form, and evidence supporting the allegation, is then submitted to the Student Grade Appeal Committee that, Newman said, “is composed largely of faculty members from various departments on campus.”

A unanimous decision is preferred, but a vote of 3-2 is enough for the appeal to get considered.

If the committee does see that there was a mistake, they make a rational decision behind the replacement grade for the student who appealed.

Once the change is agreed upon, the process to remove the original grade from the student’s records and replace it with the newly agreed upon grade begins within 10 days of the closed-session meeting.

For students, the Grade Appeal process is “one more avenue for ensuring that the final grade is fair and appropriate,” said Newman.