Policy on Grading, Assessment and Review

  1. GENERAL: Assessment of student work is one of the fundamental obligations of law faculty.
    1. Faculty should submit grades in a timely manner and provide an explanation of the basis upon which they have made assessments.[1]
    2. Examinations and papers must be either returned to students (directly or through the Registrar) or retained by the professor (or the Registrar, as applicable) for one calendar year. In the case of examinations or papers not returned, the professor must provide the student a timely opportunity to review the examination or paper.
    3. Judgment regarding standards of evaluation for a student's academic performance is within the purview of the faculty member.
  2. INFORMAL REVIEW PROCESS: A student may request further feedback about a faculty member's assessment of his/her work or the grade he/she has received consistent with the following:
    1. It is the policy of the school to encourage informal discussion and consultation between the student and faculty member as part of the latter's professional obligations.
    2. If, for any reason, a student has concerns about approaching a faculty member to request a consultation, the student may request the Associate Dean for Student Affairs to assist in facilitating a meeting.
  3. FORMAL REVIEW: Because judgment regarding standards of evaluation of a student's academic performance involves academic judgment, the exercise of that judgment is not subject to a grievance procedure.
    1. A student may, however, initiate a grievance with either the Vice Dean or Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs ("Senior Associate Dean") via academic@wcl.american.edu if, after being furnished the basis for assessment and after thoroughly exhausting the informal consultation review process, the student believes that a faculty member's assessment of his/her work:
      1. failed to comply materially with the faculty member's stated policies/requirements of the course, or
      2. was the product of a grossly arbitrary grading process, or
      3. was the product of unlawful discrimination.
    2. If the student alleges that the final course grade resulted from a violation of the University’s discrimination policies, the Chair/Director will immediately refer the case to the Assistant Vice President for Equity and Title IX Officer who will review the case in accordance with either the University’s Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy and/or Discrimination and Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Policy, whichever is applicable.
    3. A student must file his or her grievance no later than 10 business days after the last date on which attempts at informal resolution have failed, but in no event later than September 25, in the case of the immediately preceding spring and summer terms, or February 15, in the case of the immediately preceding fall term.
    4. The grievance shall be in writing and state with particularity the grounds and attach any documentation upon which the student relies in asserting a grievable matter.
    5. The Vice Dean or Sr. Assoc. Dean may dismiss any complaints failing to state a grievable matter.
    6. For any matter not dismissed, the Vice Dean or Senior Associate Dean shall refer to the Standing Hearing Committee (“SHC”) any grievance that raises an arguably grievable matter within 10 business days of receipt and shall notify the student and affected faculty member.
    7. The SHC is charged with determining anew whether the complaint is a grievable matter and, if so, shall give the parties the opportunity to be heard within 10 business days of receiving the referral from the Vice Dean or Senior Associate Dean.
    8. The burden is on the student to show by clear and convincing evidence that a grade or assessment resulted from conditions described in III.A. 1, 2, or 3.
    9. The SHC will not substitute its judgment for that of the faculty member.
    10. The SHC shall conduct a hearing unless the student waives the right to it.
    11. The hearing shall be in closed session. The student and the faculty member shall have the right to be heard by the SHC. Parties to the proceeding may present evidence, including witnesses.
    12. SHC proceedings, deliberations, and decisions shall be confidential.
    13. The SHC shall render its decision in writing within 7 calendar days of the hearing and shall state therein or otherwise provide its rationale. SHC decisions shall be by majority vote.
    14. The time periods set forth in preceding sections F, G, and M may be extended by the Dean of the Law School (“Dean”) for good cause.
    1. The SHC shall be the Committee appointed by the Dean for the Academic Year or such other term as the Dean may designate. The Committee shall consist of at least three faculty members and at least one student member. The student member will usually be the student honor code prosecutor but, at the discretion of the Dean, may be another designee of the Student Bar Association.
    2. In the absence of an appeal of the SHC decision, the SHC chair shall forward the decision to the Dean for implementation.
    1. Appeals
      1. Either Party may appeal an SHC decision to the Dean within 10 business days of the decision being issued. Grounds for appeal shall be limited to: (1) improper SHC procedure adversely affecting the resulting decision, (2) newly discovered evidence unavailable at SHC hearing and capable of changing the outcome, or (3) inappropriate remedy.
      2. A student may also appeal a decision by the Vice Dean or Senior Associate Dean to dismiss a grievance under Section III. D. hereof within 3 business days of receiving notice of such dismissal.
    2. The Dean may request such information as he/she may need and shall render a final and binding decision within 10 business days of receipt of the matter.
    3. Following the conclusion of the appellate process or expiration of the time for filing an appeal without the filing of an appeal, the Dean shall notify the concerned parties of the outcome.
    1. If the Dean determines that one or more members of the SHC or any other faculty member in any given matter has or appears to have a conflict of interest, the Dean may substitute an alternative faculty member to take on the role of the member so conflicted.
    2. If any required procedures remain unaddressed in this policy, the default provisions shall be those found in the University's Academic Regulations

 [1] This obligation may be satisfied in many different ways including, but not limited to: furnishing a model exam answer, furnishing an example of an excellent student answer, furnishing written comments on exams and assignments, holding an exam review session, etc.

Updated January 2020