Monday, February 12, 2007

Grade Appeal

Interesting case in Boston. What recourse does a student have, if s/he disagrees with a grade? There are two things that seem impossible: 1. All grades are open to renegotiation, because of the threat of legal action. 2. There is no appeal, and the student has no recourse.

But if neither one of THOSE is right....then what is the answer?

By Julie Masis

BOSTON (Reuters) - A student is suing a Massachusetts university over what he says is an unfair grade in a philosophy course, saying it could kill his chances of entering law school.

Brian Marquis, 50, said on Wednesday that he filed the lawsuit against the University of Massachusetts last week after receiving a "C" instead of the "A minus" he had expected.

"Quite frankly, I find this utterly unacceptable," Marquis, who worked as a legal assistant before returning to college, said from the university in Amherst in western Massachusetts.

The teaching assistant redrew the grading scale "to make grades more representative of student performance", which turned Marquis's 92.1 percent points into 84 percent, which became a C, according to an e-mail by the teaching assistant.

At the university, an 84 percent score can produce a grade between "A-" to a "C" depending on the professor's preferences, according to the school newspaper, the Daily Collegian.

School officials declined to comment on the case.

Sheldon Steinbach, a former chief attorney for the American Council on Education, representing over 1,800 colleges for over three decades, said such cases are rare and the handful of students who have sued over grades typically lost in court.

(Nod to BN, who is, as always, Mr. Reasonable himself.)


lislaogic said...

The last exam I took, I received no percentage. I also had no right to see the corrected test, I just got the mark messengered(fair enough) though I have to mention, they put it in a nice envelope and sealed it with scotch tape.

When I asked for the reasons, the only statement I could extract was: "If the students knew any details, they would start arguing". And you can bet on that.

Really, the more money involved, the harder the arguing, that's what I have experienced.

Mungowitz said...

Jeez, louise!

That's pretty bad.

The arguing just comes with the territory. I don't enjoy it, but you have to give the student a shot.

An interesting question: the higher the tuition, the more the arguing. A testable claim.

Probably confounded by the fact that SO many faculty at expensive schools just give all A's. It improves your ratings, and makes the students all tell you that you are a good teacher.

Thanks, Lisa! A remarkable story.

Steven said...

I have never been a fan (neither as a student nor as a professor) of curving grades. Perhaps I am simply not enough of a stats geek, but it seems to me that if you do 92.1 work, then you get the A-.

Of course, suing over a grade always strikes me as ridiculous.