Although the right of professors to evaluate and grade students in their courses may seem obvious, teachers sometimes face the prospect of students who refuse to accept the grade they have received.

The AAUP supports the right of students to challenge assigned grades, but is troubled by the rise of a consumer-oriented view of higher education that envisions a certain grade as an entitlement for one who has paid tuition, or as an enticement to keep students enrolled and their tuition dollars flowing into an institution.

In 1998, the AAUP adopted as policy The Assignment of Course Grades and Appeals, which argues that the faculty member offering a course should be responsible for the evaluation of student course work and, under normal circumstances, is the sole judge of the grades received by the students in that course.

Grade-appeal procedures should remain under the purview of faculty. “Under no circumstances should administrative officers on their own authority substitute their judgment for that of the faculty concerning the assignment of a grade,” the statement says. “The review of a student complaint over a grade should be by faculty, under procedures adopted by faculty, and any resulting change in a grade should be by faculty authorization.” When such issues have become legal cases, courts have disagreed in their rulings on the academic freedom issues at stake.

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