Grade Changes

Each semesters work is an entity and grades are to be assigned for work completed during the normal period of the semester. As a matter of equity, grades must not be changed after the end of a semester because a student may have subsequently done additional work.

Only the instructor of the course has the responsibility and authority to judge the quality of a students work and assess the appropriate letter grade. No one can overrule instructors and require them to go against their judgment of the work.

A grade must not be arbitrary or capricious or influenced by illegal discriminatory considerations. It must not contain a punitive element for an offense against academic integrity if the student has been found innocent by a duly constituted board.

To avoid the influencing of grades by improper consideration or student pressure, a grade, once given, may only be changed if an error in the original grade is claimed by the instructor. The instructor should be willing to review the basis of an assigned grade with an inquiring student and correct the grade if an error is found.

In rare circumstances, a letter grade or incomplete can be changed to a “W” or expunged from a student’s transcript by action of the student’s college or by the Provost, for example, if so advised by Cornell Health, the Title IX Office, or by University Counsel. Regardless, the instructor of record must be informed by the registrar office making the change before the actual change is made.

If the instructor of record is no longer employed by the university, then the head of the unit offering the course  is the appropriate contact.

Any individual who believes that a grade change has been made improperly may communicate their concerns to the proper authorities via the Cornell Hotline. Faculty also have the option of sharing a grade-change concern with the Dean of Faculty.

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