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Summer Reading: Grading for Equity by Joe Feldman

This summer my entire faculty read Grading for Equity by Joe Feldman. This book is packed with research and also addresses and respects the sensitive nature of discussing grading. He does a great job of answer teachers most common questions and concerns about grading reform, like '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 therefor objective - refuted by looking at grading variance within a single school
  • Intellectual ability falls on a bell curve, and so should student grades within a course - refuted by growth mindset research
  • Students are effectively, extrinsically motivated by external factors like grades - refuted by research by Dan Pink and others that 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 where you can take the How Equitable is Your Grading quiz

What are some practices you use in your classroom to make grading more equitable?


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