Academic Freedom and the Assignment of Course Grades. The Eighty-seventh Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors notes with concern a recent panel decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in the case of a professor who claimed that an administration’s demand that he change a grade violated his academic freedom and his rights under the First Amendment (Brown v. Armenti). The court ruled that “[b]ecause grading is pedagogic, the assignment of the grade is subsumed under the university’s freedom to determine how a course is to be taught. We therefore conclude that a public university professor does not have a First Amendment right to expression via the school’s grade assignment procedures.”
This Annual Meeting calls attention to and reaffirms the long-held position of the Association that the assessment of student academic performance, including the assignment of particular grades, is a faculty right, a direct corollary of the teacher’s “freedom in the classroom” which the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure assures. Administrative officers should not on their own authority substitute their judgment for that of the faculty concerning the assignment of grades. This meeting reiterates the position of the AAUP that review of a student complaint over a grade should be by faculty, under procedures adopted by the faculty. Any resulting change in grade should be made only by faculty authorization.