Faculty Reading - Implementing Equitable Grading
Christine Witcher - Middle & High School Faculty

This summer, the entire faculty of Forest Ridge read Grading for Equity by Joe Feldman. This book is packed with research and addresses the sensitive nature of discussing grading. He does a great job of answering teachers’ most common questions and concerns about grading reform, such as “If I stop grading homework, won't they stop doing it?”

Here are my reading notes:

Assumptions About Grading to Throw Out

  • Grades are mathematical and, therefore, objective.  This is refuted by looking at grading variance within a single school.
  • Based on growth mindset research, intellectual ability falls on a bell curve and so should student grades within a course.
  • Students are effectively, extrinsically motivated by external factors like grades.  The research of Dan Pink and others shows that extrinsic motivation only really works for menial tasks.

Pillars of an Equitable Grading System

  1. Accurate - Does the grade reflect what students know, and not their behaviors?
  2. Bias-Resistant - Our practices shouldn't reward students with privilege or penalize students without privilege
  3. Motivational - Our practices should encourage students to act in pursuit of learning and not points

Next Steps

  • Stop grading or awarding points for homework
  • Use rubrics
  • "Calibrate" rubrics by assessing a sample of student work together with students
  • Help students see the connection of behaviors (like homework completion) to learning
  • The consequence for not doing work should be to do the work

If you don't have time to do a full read of Grading for Equity, I'd recommend checking out this webinar by Joe Feldman and visiting the website www.gradingforequity.com. Teachers at Forest Ridge are enthusiastically adopting these principals to provide a more equitable learning environment for our students.