For the last few months I have been tutoring a student in a university math course and they just received their finally course grade which numerically was a 78, but to my surprise the letter grade they received was a D. The letter grade they received was due to a grading policy along the lines of the top 15% of students get an A,next 35% B's, then 35% C's, and the bottom 15% receive a D/F.
While a D is technically considered passing the student I am working with needs at least a C- for the course to count towards their program. Is it unreasonable for the student to request a list of all other students grades from the prof to verify that they were actually in the bottom 15%?
Normally for a student to verify their grade they can simply check their grades against the letter grade requirement in the course syllabus but that is not the case here.
Is it unreasonable for the student to request a list of all other students grades from the prof to verify that they were actually in the bottom 15%?
Yes, it's unreasonable. It's perfectly fine to ask something like "My reading of the grading policy is that only the bottom 15% of the class receives a D or below. Is that correct, and is my grade of 78 really in the bottom 15%? I felt I was doing better than that, so I'd like to check that the D is correct." Requesting the other grades themselves offers no more assurance that it's right (the only situation where it really helps you is if the professor just isn't capable of computing 15% correctly), it's more work for the professor, and most importantly it leaks information about how other people are doing. For example, one of the top students in the class could use this data to make a good guess as to whether their rival had outperformed them or not. The particular risks here might not be a big deal, but at least in the U.S. grades are considered private and should not be revealed.