Grade Appeal Process

Per "Berkeley Division Regulation A207: Grade Appeals"

Berkeley Division Regulation A207.A states that the grounds for grievance are: application of non-academic criteria, such as: considerations of race, politics, religion, sex, or other criteria not directly reflective of performance related to course requirements; sexual harassment; improper academic procedures that unfairly affect a student's grade [1].

Informal Grievance Process

Students who wish to appeal a grade in a History course must first begin discussions with the instructor in charge of the course and attempt to resolve the matter informally. They may choose or be advised to begin discussions with a GSI, but should always speak with the instructor. Students may also contact the department chair or Student Ombudsperson, or another mutually acceptable third party who is uninvolved in the grade grievance process and can attempt to mediate the dispute informally. If the matter is still unresolved (and the one-year time limit has not expired), the student may initiate the formal grievance process.

Formal Grievance Process

Ad Hoc Grievance Committee

The History Department shall, through its normal procedures for appointing departmental officers, annually establish a standing grievance committee chair who is not the chair of the department. For each case, the grievance committee chair will appoint an ad hoc grievance committee composed of three faculty members [2] including the grievance committee chair, one other faculty member from the same unit [3], one faculty member from a different unit; and two students in good standing who will be appointed by the Department's student association, in this case Phi Alpha Theta [4]. The original instructor cannot be a member of this committee; if the original instructor is the standing grievance committee chair, the department chair will appoint another faculty member to chair the ad hoc grievance committee. The grievance committee chair is a regular voting member of this committee.

In cases where multiple grievances are presented (e.g., more than one student grieving grades from the same course, or one student grieving grades from more than one course), a single ad hoc grievance committee may review the cases with the student's (or students') written consent (e-mail is acceptable). Otherwise, each grievance must be reviewed by a separate ad hoc grievance committee.

Ad Hoc Grievance Committee Process

The student must initiate the formal grievance process within one calendar year of the last day of the semester in which the course in question was taken [5]. The formal process is initiated when the student submits the casein writing to the grievance committee chair. As stipulated by Regulation A207, the formal grievance process at the departmental level must be completed within twenty (20) working days of receipt of the student's formal grievance (if both parties are in residence and the University is in regular session,[6] , excluding summer session). [7] The case must include the following:

  • a description of the basis for the grievance and, if it exists, the original work in question;
  • a written response from the instructor;
  • a written rebuttal by both the student and instructor to the other's position; if no rebuttal is presented, there must be documentation, either from the student and instructor or the ad hoc grievance committee, that ample opportunity for submitting one was provided.

The grievance committee chair will present all these materials to the ad hoc grievance committee at its first meeting. The student and instructor may present additional information in writing to the ad hoc grievance committee prior to the meeting or, at the option of the ad hoc grievance committee chair, in person to the ad hoc grievance committee, but neither party may be present while the other is appearing before the committee or while the committee is deliberating.

Upon the conclusion of its deliberations, the grievance committee chair will report its decision in writing, signed by the committee chair, along with any minority views, to the department chair, the student, and the instructor. The department chair will forward all relevant documents and notify COCI (Academic Senate Committee on Courses of Instruction) in writing of the recommendation within two weeks of receiving the report from the ad hoc grievance committee.

Ad Hoc Grievance Committee Remedies

The ad hoc grievance committee's recommendations may include a change of letter grade or grading option (i.e., P/NP, S/U). Four of the committee's five members must consent to the letter grade that is recommended (including the change of grade of D+ and below to a grade of P or the change of a grade of C+ or below to a grade of S).

COCI Review

COCI requires the following items for its review of the appeal:

  • A written report from the ad hoc grievance committee presenting its recommendation and the rationale behind the recommendation;
  • Any minority view(s) must also be given in writing as part of the report;
  • All members of the ad hoc grievance committee must be identified, and the report must be signed by the committee chair.

The materials outlined in section B, "Process," which the grievance committee chair presents to the ad hoc grievance committee at its first meeting.
Any additional documentation which the student and instructor judge supportive of their case (e.g., exams, statements by other students, GSIs, chair, etc.).

COCI Remedies

In accordance with Regulation A207, if COCI finds for the student, it may: change a failing grade to a P or S; drop a course retroactively; retain the course but eliminate the grade from the student's GPA; adopt the letter grade, if any, that was recommended by four of the five members of the unit's ad hoc grievance committee.

COCI will conclude its review and notify the concerned parties in writing of its decision in accordance with Regulation A207 within forty (40) working days of receipt of the grade grievance case from the department (if the University is in regular session, excluding summer session).


  1. COCI interprets the meaning of "improper" academic procedures to be those which are not consistent with "proper" academic procedures. "Proper" academic procedures for evaluation require that the grading is based solely on the instructor's evaluation of how well a student's performance (project, paper, exam question, or student participation) addresses a specific requirement. This evaluation can involve elements of recall of factual information, integration of material and concepts covered (in class, readings, or assignments), and application of material and concepts to new situations. As long as the evaluation is based on the relevance of the answer (project, paper, exam question, or student participation) to the question asked (assignment given), there is no basis for considering any such evaluations improper. Inherent in this interpretation is that equivalent answers or work get equivalent grades.

  2. A faculty member is considered to be a member of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate.

  3. Drawing from Berkeley Division Regulation A207.B (Grade Appeals: Appeal of Grades in Courses and Examinations), a unit is defined as "a department or other instructional unit, or group of units teaching similar disciplines."

  4. Per Berkeley Division Regulation A207.B. (Grade Appeals: Appeal of Grades in Courses and Examinations), "When no such association exists, students shall be appointed by the ASUC or the Graduate Assembly. (Student members must have passed courses or an examination in the unit(s) at least at the level of the disputed course or examination, and have been in residence for at least one year.)"

  5. If the student and instructor agree to a resolution at any time during the formal grievance process, then that process is terminated. The student's consent must be stated in writing (e-mail is acceptable).

  6. The regular session is considered to begin the first day of instruction and end on the last day of examinations.

  7. If one or both parties are not in residence at the University, then the chair of COCI, or his/her designated representative, may extend the time limit specified in this procedure by twenty working days so that the grievance procedure can be conducted by mail or some other equivalent means. The COCI chair, or his/her designated representative, may also grant an extension of no more than twenty working days for exceptional circumstances.