Grading for Equity
Katie Joyce, HS Social and Religious Studies

By Katie Joyce, HS Social and Religious Studies

Taped to the wall behind my computer, so I can see it all day, every day, is an index card that reads “Grading for Equity Goal: Grades based ONLY on summative assessments, not formative assessments or homework.”

For teachers and students, this is a huge shift. Teachers are used to assigning points to everything. It’s an easy way to see who has turned in their assignment, who got all the answers right, and who didn’t. Students are used to collecting them. Points are how you tell how you’re doing in a class; they’re how you can compare yourself to others. They’re something to fight for when you receive less than you think you should. But over the summer, the FR faculty read Grading for Equity and our minds were blown.

In his book, Joe Feldman describes a system of education based on learning, not points. Teachers and students use standards to tell how each individual learner is doing in making sense of the content and skills that the class is teaching. It shifts the focus away from getting an “A” to fully understanding course concepts. This is something I have been interested in since the beginning of my career, but online gradebooks, a changing curriculum, and the sheer difficulty of going against a system that has been in place for over 100 years (yes, our education system was built during the industrial revolution!) had me feeling like it just wasn’t possible. And yet…

I’m so excited to tackle this work as a school. So far, I’m trying to give feedback, not points, on assignments, and I’m already hearing myself give my students more information about what we are learning, why we are learning it, and how it connects to the goals of the class. We’ll see how my students feel when our first unit ends, but the best part about how we are working on this as a school is that we are all, teachers and students, in a conversation about how to make this work and how to make it make sense to everyone. This is a huge culture shift. And it is an incredibly important one.

If standards-based grading at Forest Ridge is something you want to hear more about, please join us at our parent ed opportunity at 5 pm on October 14th.