Date of Award


Degree Name

Educational Leadership


College of Education and Professional Development

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

William E. Collins

Second Advisor

Ernest R. Goeres

Third Advisor

Martha C. Howard

Fourth Advisor

William C. Monahan

Fifth Advisor

John Andes


The problem is to devise for institutions of higher learning a model policy regarding grades and grading practices, specifically with respect to (1) grade appeal procedures, including instructor rights and student rights; (2) methods of determining grades; (3) definitions of grades; (4) responsibility for assigning grades; and (5) cheating regulations insofar as they affect grading policies. A model policy should assist colleges and universities in achieving conformity with recent court decisions and avoiding the many problems associated with litigation. At the same time, institutions should then be able to maintain their academic standards and provide academic fairness for all students.

The study is based on the review of the following materials related to grading practices: (1) court cases, through December, 1977 , from the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Circuit Courts, U.S. District Courts, and State Supreme Courts; (2) the legal literature; (3) current grading practices and policies of Type I public universities within the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), as published in institutional catalogs and handbooks.

The review of court cases showed the courts’ (1) continued reluctance to intervene in academic matters; (2) consideration of due process rights in academic affairs if a student’s liberty and/or property interests are at stake; (3) willingness to intervene if bad faith, arbitrary, or capricious decisions can be proven by the appellant; and (4) willingness to provide judicial interpretation; of policy when institutions have failed to do so and when student or faculty rights have been affected by that failure.

The review of legal literature revealed that few contributors to law reviews and journals have been interested in student and faculty rights and responsibilities in academic matters, although some recent observers have been interested in the protection accorded higher education under the doctrine of judicial nonintervention in academic affairs.

The review of current grading practices and policies of the institutions surveyed revealed (1) some institutions with policies designed to protect student and faculty academic rights and to avoid, thereby, legal intervention, and (2) some with specific weakness resulting from the absence of such policies.

The results are expressed in terms of recommended features for a model policy: (1) Definitions of grades and explanations of grading systems must be precise, clear, and consistent. (2) The responsibility for assigning grades must be clearly stated. (3) Explanations of methods of determining grades must be available to all students. (4) Institutional cheating policies must be precisely stated and available, provide for procedural due process, and clearly define terms such as “plagiarism.” (5) Grade books and student work not returned to students should be regarded as the property of the institution. (6) A clearly outlined grade appeal procedure protecting the rights of both students and faculty must provide for final grade determination by someone other than the instructor who originally awarded the grade. In addition, it was concluded that the courts have in fact not interfered with academic issues, except in academic dismissals and that the adoption of the policies recommended would lessen the likelihood of judicial intervention, since student and faculty rights would have intra-institutional protection.


The University of West Virginia College of Graduate Studies became the WV Graduate College in 1992 and was subsequently merged with Marshall University in 1997.


Grading and marking (Students)

Education, Higher.