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Fort Lewis College Official Seal

Policy identification number:  To come...

File: Academic Policies > Grading Policies

Instructors' Authority and Responsibility to Assign Grades 

Policy summary

This policy establishes the authority and responsibility of the instructor of record to assign student grades, subject to limited exceptions.


Policy Owner

 Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs 

Approval Date

November 19, 2014 

Effective Date

November 19, 2014

Search Terms

pvpaa, I, g, assign, grades

Scheduled for Review

 Fall 2019 

Policy Statement 

  1. The instructor of record (hereafter, instructor) has the authority:
    1. To establish grading policies for a course;
    2. To assign grades assessing the quality of students’ work;
    3. To assign the following grades that explain why the quality of a student’s work was not assessed: AU (audit), I (Incomplete), and IP (in progress);
    4. To change a posted grade assessing the quality of a student’s work, but no later than one calendar year. Extensions are allowable beyond one year with approval of the Dean, after the original grade was posted, but only if the student’s degree has not yet been conferred.
  2. The instructor does not have the authority:
    1. To change the following grades that explain why the quality of a student’s work was not assessed: AW (administrative withdrawal), CW (course withdrawal), GW (graduate withdrawal), MW (military withdrawal), SW (semester withdrawal), X (credit for prior learning).
  3. The instructor has the responsibility to assign grades assessing the quality of students’ work at the conclusion of the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters by the “Final Grades Due From Faculty” date and time on the academic calendar.
    1. The filing of “placeholder” grades is prohibited.
      1. The Registrar will report to the supervising Dean any grading patterns that suggest placeholder grades were filed for a course. 
    2. If an instructor has an illness or injury, death of a relative, or other special circumstance that prevents meeting his or her responsibility to assign grades, the Dean must notify the Registrar.
  4. The instructor has the responsibility to change a grade of I, IP, and NG within one calendar year or by a student’s approved degree conferral date, whichever comes first.
    1. The Registrar will remind the faculty of any pending grading responsibilities one month prior to the calendar year or degree conferral deadline.
    2. The Registrar will report to the supervising dean any grades unresolved one month after the reminder.
  5. If an instructor has left the employ of the college before completing his or her grading responsibilities, that instructor’s authority and responsibility to assign and change grades must be assumed by the Department Chair.
    1. To minimize these instances, the Human Resources office will require Registrar’s Office approval as part of an instructional employee’s exit process.
  6. Any exceptions to policy statements 1-5 must be authorized by the Provost.

Reason for Policy 

Recognition of the authority of instructors of record to assign grades is required under Higher Learning Commission Assumed Practice 1.C.   With the authority to assign grades comes the responsibility to do so.  Late, missing, and placeholder grades are punitive to students who must meet completion and grade point average standards.

Consequences for Not Following Policy 

Failure to assign a grade or to change a grade of I, IP, or NG by the deadlines established in this policy will be considered adequate cause for disciplinary action under Part II, Section 17 of the Faculty Handbook, unless the instructor has been incapacitated by illness, injury, has experienced the death of a relative, or has another special circumstance.


Grades Assessing the Quality of a Student’s Work – Grades of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, and F for courses approved during the curriculum process to use the letter grading system; grades of S or NC, for courses approved to use the Satisfactory/No Credit system, and grades of P or F, for courses approved to use the Pass-Fail grading system.  Grades of P or F may be used to assess the quality of a student’s work in a course approved for letter grading if approved by Census Date by the instructor of record, subject to limitations set forth in Grades, Quality Points, and Grade Point Average policy.

Grades That Explain Why the Quality of a Student’s Work Was Not Assessed – Grades of AU, AW, CW, GW, I, IP, MW, and SW.

Placeholder Grades -- The filing of grades for a course that do not assess the quality of each student’s work.  This grading practice is evidenced by the assignment of the same grade to most students in a course and the subsequent change of those grades for most students.


For following policy:  All individuals assigned as instructors of record for Fort Lewis College courses.

For enforcement of policy:  Registrar, Department Chairs, and Deans.

For oversight of policy:  Provost.

For communicating grade assignment and grade change procedures to instructors:  Registrar.

For issuing timely reminders about grading responsibilities to the faculty:  Registrar.

For reporting of late, missing, and suspected placeholder grades:  Registrar.

For notification of policy: Policy Librarian

Cross-Referenced Policies 

11-8 Active Duty


Course Syllabus Policy

Credit for Prior Learning

Faculty Handbook, Part II, Section 17

Grades of Incomplete

Grades, Quality Points, and Grade Point Averages - Undergraduate