Help with Grade Appeal

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rwbil:
I am looking for any advice on doing a grade appeal.   I would have to write a book to explain the entire situation, so I will keep it as brief as I can. 

I have spent over four years dedicating myself to achieving a B.S degree in American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreting.  I have taken courses from teachers with a variety of backgrounds and from both hearing and deaf teachers.  Some of my professors have been renowned experts in the ASL field.  I have mostly been an “A” student and I have never received a grade below a “B”.   My GPA is 3.59.  And now in my last semester my professor is giving me an “F”.  And in case anyone ask I did all the assignments and they were all done in time so none of that is the issue here.

The professor had sent me an email telling me she was going to fail me and I should withdrawal from the class.  I told her I wanted to meet to appeal my grade.  The night before we meet she goes into Blackboard and give me low grades on all my work that had no grades already assigned; with no explanation of the grading.  I disagreed with all of her grading.

In order to get my ASL skills to be the best they can be I asked this department who would be the best ASL mentors I could work with.  Two Deaf professional mentors were recommended,  and I have been working with both of them for many months/years.   I asked both of these mentors to give me an honest assessment of my videos that the professor gave me 30’s on.  They both said I did an excellent job and one of them wrote a letter saying she could not see how I could possibly be given an “F” on those videos.  I also got an expert in the field to do an assessment and he also gave me high remarks.

So I meet with the Professor to discuss my grade appeal and brought my advisor along.  One possible suggestion was to develop a plan to work with a different mentor to get my skills up.  Even though I had been working with 2 deaf mentors, I did not mind working with another mentor to improve my skills and pass this course.

The professor stated I would have to work with a mentor for a year to get my skills high enough to get a “C” in her class.  I found this statement disconcerting for a few reasons.  But then 2 days later the professor states she looked at her options and cannot offer any options to improve my grade.
I have reviewed my videos and watched other students’ videos.  My videos were as good as and in some cases better than some of the other students who were given passing grades. 
But I have read here I should not comment on the fact that the professor is apparently grading me to a different standard.

As stated previously, I am very concerned about the professor’s statement that I would have to work with a mentor for a year to get my skill up to be a “C” in her class.  This is very disturbing because this professor knew exactly what my ASL skills were before I started this short term class just 8 weeks ago.  And this professor via emails and conversations gave me encouraging feedback telling me how impressed she was with my skills and with the improvements I have been making.   If she felt my signing was that “BAD”, I think she had an ethical and moral obligation to state her opinion from the start, so I did not waste my time and money just to get an “F” in my last semester. 

When I ask she just says the grading criteria is tougher in this class.  But this class grade is subjective and you can use that argument to fail any student you want.  I understand this class is harder, but something just does not seem right here.  In my previous class with this same professor I had to interpret similar videos and I see no difference in the syllabus regarding the grading criteria on these videos.  And the professor gave me a grade in the 80’s on those videos, yet now she is giving me all “Fs”.  And since that time my skills have gotten better as I continued to work with mentors.  But one can only improve so much from the previous semester.  I do not see how the class criteria is so much harder now that I went from a “B” to an “F” and apparently the grading level is “NOW” so high that even when the Deaf mentors say I did a good job; I apparently did not.  I did not go through the Deaf mentors credentials, but one of them is a teacher herself and highly regarded.
I think part of the problem is I come from a different culture and this professor has made what I consider to be negative comments about my linguistic skills.  And in my culture the facial grammar/ expression is different and I do need to work on that, but cultural diversity is valued in Deaf culture. 
But from reading comments from others it seems like I should not bring up the negative comments that this professor has made regarding my culture.

One final point I should mention, this program is such that I cannot just retake this class next semester under a different professor.  It is only taught once every 2 years and more than likely by the same professor.
My next step is to meet with the department head, but in preliminary conversation she has stated she has full confidence in this professor, so I do not think that meeting will result in anything. 
I am looking for ideas of what I should and should not include in my arguments to the head of the department and if that fails; to the dean.  For example should I point out this same professor gave me a “B” in my previous class and only gave me positive feedback until she decide to fail me.  I am willing to do extra coursework if needed and if anyone has any suggestion on what they think I could suggest that would also be appreciated.  And lastly does anyone know if there is someone you can hire that really knows this process that can help a student with a grade appeal. 











rwbil:
There is one other thing I thought I should mention, but I do not know if this is something I should bring up as an issue or not.  Another person familiar with the program told me this program might have been using me.  Let me explain.  This is a new program and by the final year they only had 7 people in the class and there was talk about cancelling the program.  So they needed to keep me in the class.  The other person thought maybe the professor never thought my skill where high enough but just passed me so they would have enough students to just fail me in the end.  And thinking about everything I think there is some truth to that statement, because another student thought about dropping out because she could not keep up with the coursework and they told her they really could not afford to lose any student.

mystictechgal:
I have absolutely no background to suggest that any advice I might give for this situation is worth more than a hill of beans, so take anything I say with that in mind.

If I was in your position, and as capable and advanced in ASL as you say you are, I think I might ask the department head--or, better yet, a totally impartial party, like your campus' disability office--to arrange for an interpreter to be present at the meeting, preferably one not known to you or your professor--so, ideally, someone from off campus.

Then I would insist on communicating through that interpreter. If they are worried about your ability to receive vs. convey, they could write, rather than speak, their questions/comments and have the interpreter work both directions.

If you are as advanced and as good as you say you are, conducting a successful meeting should go a long way toward bolstering your appeal.

On previewing your second post: My strategy should still work, assuming your tutors have had as high, or higher, standards as your professor. If everyone has just been passing you along to keep you around you're screwed. If that's the case, I'd not worry as much about passing this class as much as I'd worry about which school I'd prefer to transfer to next.

If that's how they operate they've been graduating incompetent people for years, because they've been trying to hold onto the competent ones, not graduating them. Your eventual degree will be devalued by all of the incompetents that have gone before you. Eventually, no one will trust any of their degree holders. Does this make sense to you as a business model? No?

If not, you need to reevaluate some things, but you are in a better position than I to decide which things need reevaluation.

(We play the same games of enrollment. It's a shell game. I've been encouraged to enroll in, and later drop, a class just so it will "make". Just last week I asked classmates to do the same thing for a class on the schedule. We need 8, we're 3 short, and people with the necessary pre-reqs are limited. People in my major are even more limited, and it's a new course. If we don't get the other 3 I'll be taking ASL (no joke). I kind of want to take ASL, anyway, but at the moment it's about the only thing I can take in the Fall to keep my loan eligibility while fitting in with the classes I actually need and am scheduled for. The idea of failing someone just to keep them around to "make" classes is unconscionable and absurd. If your professors are really doing that they are idiots and you need to run.)

mouseman:
Rwil,

in all seriousness, how can anybody trust that you have achieved a GPA on 3.95, and deserve a passing grade in ALS, when your written English is abysmal?

I cannot understand which course you are writing about.  I cannot understand what you are failing, and I cannot understand your justification for a different grade.  If this is what your grade appeal will look like, there is absolutely no chance on this green earth that you would have your grade changed.

If you feel justified in appealing your grade, take the time to sit down and organize your thoughts and claims, and create something that is at least half-way readable.  Then take it to whoever is in charge of these things in your school. 

On preview - MTG is a lot more patient and kind than I am, I see.

rwbil:
First I wanted to explain the assignment.  The assignment was to watch videos whereby a speaker is talking in English and record myself on another video as I interpreted English to ASL.


Mystictechgal

I was thinking about bringing along my deaf mentor when I met with the head of the department.  This deaf mentor is the person the head of the department recommended to me.  I have had signed conversation with the Department head and I do not think there is any issue with me being able to communicate back and forth using ASL and English.  This might be a good idea if I appeal to the dean though, as evidence I can communicate. 

You hit upon an important point when you stated "assuming, your tutors have had as high, or higher, standards as your professor"  This is the real issue.  The professor and department head are going to say this is a tough course with high standards.  And I understand the grading criteria is tough.  But in order to get my skills to be the best they can be I asked both the professor and the department head if they could recommend a mentor I could work with and I worked with both the mentors they suggested. Also keep in mind this professor just last semester gave me a "B" on my English to ASL interpretation of videos.

One can only possible improve so much from one semester to another.  So apparently this professor grading standard increased so much that a student who was getting "Bs" the previous semester is now getting "Fs"  and the standard has been increased so much what the deaf mentor see as a "GOOD" job the professor now sees as a "BAD" job.  I think this is the point I really need to hammer home.  What are your suggestions.

Mouseman

I was trying not to write a book and just provide a quick overview.  I would obviously provide a more detailed and well written explanation with my grade appeal.  I do not understand your harsh comments.  I did not say I had a GPA of 3.95, but I am not blasting your reading or typing ability for such a mistake.  Also I could give the course name and number but how would that help you.  I am not a great writer, but I am not getting an "F" based on my writing ability.  I am getting an "F" on videos that I interpreted from English to ASL.  The professor says I did not convey a clear message.  Yet she provided no details on what was clear and what was not clear.  And as I have already stated I had 2 deaf mentors assess my videos and they disagreed.  I even got a letter from one of them.  I also had other interpreters with years of experience assess my videos and they told me I did a good job.  Plus I got an outside expert to assess my videos.  I really do not know how I could get more evidence to show that others have a more favorable opinion of my work.

I plan to take it to my appeal to the person in charge, but came here looking for advice on the points I should make and the points I should not make.  But you make a good point, which I had commented I am not a great writer and would love to find someone to help me organize a grade appeal and make sure everything is written well.  Any suggestions on how to do that.
 

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