Sunday, July 25, 2010

Suing for Grades

Posted by Chris at 4/26/2007 2:07 PM ...

Profgrrrrl has an account of a colleague that is being sued by a student over a grade.  The student in question has appealed the grade in question at every level of the university, and being denied at all levels has taken the matter to a county cicuit court in pursuit of monetary damages in excess of $15k.

The student believes that s/he earned an "A", but received a "B+" instead.

Yep.  A hefty lawsuit by a student wanting to gain .25 grade points out of a class.

We've all had our run-ins with this type of issue - the last one I had the student was 1.5 points shy of an "A", but after much deliberation, and discussing it with my Program Chair, I relented.  Why?  It wasn't worth the hassle to defend 1.5 points out of 1,000 for the course.  Either way it would have been a waste of my time and the time of a boat load of other faculty members.  Since I only do this part-time, I just could justify the expense in time and energy.

That probably makes me weak, but so be it.

As the commenters over at Profgrrrrl's blog have pointed out, this is why you need rubrics, good syllabi, and grading that is as transparent as possible.  That way when you and your school end up in court, you have all of the standards in hand to demonstrate that not only is everything as objective as possible, but that there was also no bias involved.  For those of us that assign essay exams and research papers, ths is doubly important - how do you determine the number of points a given assignment earns, and that all papers are graded the same way?  This isn't only fairness, but the first line of defense.

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