Grading and Equity: Why It Matters

 a key approaching a lock
"Do no harm." These were the words of Commissioner Makin in the spring of 2020 when schools shuttered, pivoting to a method of teaching and learning that most had not experienced before, and none had expected to be the sustained as long as it was. A big question was how to assess student learning and assign grades when traditional teaching was suspended. While grading systems are a matter of local control, many embraced Commissioner Makin's instructions to do no harm as a call to action that transcends the state of emergency associated with the pandemic.
Engaging in grading practices that promote learning that is fair, accurate, free from bias, and motivating requires a close look at the history of our current grading system. We must understand why we grade as we do before we can redesign our systems. Assessment that prioritizes feedback to feed forward encourages risk taking and student agency. Explore the history of our current grading practices, rooted in 19th century needs, and consider the accuracy, built-in bias, and deterrents to growth. 


We don't all begin in the same place or progress at the same rate. Equitable grading practices focus on the learning. 



Feedback does not require a grade and does foster student agency. Feedback and reporting do not require endless grading. 

Instruction and Assessment


What to teach, when to assess, and how to report are essential elements of an equitable grading system. 

Grading for Equity: a text-based series 

Focus on feedback. What is the relationship between teacher clarity and feedback? View this session recorded in the spring of 2020 that explores the topic. 


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