“Joe Feldman shows us how we can use grading to help students become the leaders of their own learning and lift the veil on how to succeed. . . . This must-have book will help teachers learn to implement improved, equity-focused grading for impact.”
Author of Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain
Crack open the grading conversation
Here at last—and none too soon—is a resource that delivers the research base, tools, and courage to tackle one of the most challenging and emotionally charged conversations in today’s schools: our inconsistent grading practices and the ways they can inadvertently perpetuate the achievement and opportunity gaps among our students.
With Grading for Equity, Joe Feldman cuts to the core of the conversation, revealing how grading practices that are accurate, bias-resistant, and motivational will improve learning, minimize grade inflation, reduce failure rates, and become a lever for creating stronger teacher-student relationships and more caring classrooms. Essential reading for schoolwide and individual book study or for student advocates, Grading for Equity provides
- A critical historical backdrop, describing how our inherited system of grading was originally set up as a sorting mechanism to provide or deny opportunity, control students, and endorse a “fixed mindset” about students’ academic potential—practices that are still in place a century later
- A summary of the research on motivation and equitable teaching and learning, establishing a rock-solid foundation and a “true north” orientation toward equitable grading practices
- Specific grading practices that are more equitable, along with teacher examples, strategies to solve common hiccups and concerns, and evidence of effectiveness
- Reflection tools for facilitating individual or group engagement and understanding
As Joe writes, “Grading practices are a mirror not just for students, but for us as their teachers.” Each one of us should start by asking, “What do my grading practices say about who I am and what I believe?” Then, let’s make the choice to do things differently . . . with Grading for Equity as a dog-eared reference.
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About the Author
Joe Feldman has worked in education at the local and national levels for over 20 years in both charter and district school contexts, as a teacher, principal, and district administrator. He began his career as a high school English and American History teacher in Atlanta Public Schools and was the founding principal of a charter high school in Washington, DC. He has been the Director of Charter Schools for New York City Department of Education, the Director of K-12 Instruction in Union City, California, and was a Fellow to the Chief of Staff for U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley. Joe is currently CEO of Crescendo Education Group (crescendoedgroup.org), a consulting organization that partners with school and districts to help teachers use improved and more equitable grading and assessment practices. Joe graduated from Stanford, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and NYU Law School. He is the author of several articles on grading and assessment, and the author of Teaching Without Bells: What We Can Learn from Powerful Practice in Small Schools (Paradigm). He lives in Oakland with his wife and two children.
Table of Contents
ACKNOWLEDGMENTSABOUT THE AUTHORPROLOGUE: MALLORY’S DILEMMAPART I: FOUNDATIONSCHAPTER 1. WHAT MAKES GRADING SO DIFFICULT TO TALK ABOUT (AND EVEN HARDER TO CHANGE)? Grading as Identity Grading and Our “Web of Belief” Who Is This Book For? Blending the Technical and Theoretical How Is This Book Organized? A Final Word Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderCHAPTER 2. A BRIEF HISTORY OF GRADING The Twentieth Century Context Impact on Schools Grading in the Twentieth Century Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderPART II: THE CASE FOR CHANGE: HOW TRADITIONAL GRADING THWARTS EFFECTIVE AND EQUITABLE TEACHING AND LEARNINGCHAPTER 3. HOW TRADITIONAL GRADING STIFLES RISK-TAKING AND SUPPORTS THE “COMMODITY OF GRADES” Risk-Taking, Trust, and the Teacher–Student Relationship The “Commodity of Grades” and Extrinsic Motivation Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderCHAPTER 4. TRADITIONAL GRADING HIDES INFORMATION, INVITES BIASES, AND PROVIDES MISLEADING INFORMATION Traditional Grading Evaluates Both a Student’s Content Knowledge as Well as Their Behaviors, and Invites Subjectivity and Bias Implicit Bias and Traditional Grading The “Omnibus” Grade: A Barrel-ful of Information in a Thimble-Size Container A Tale of Two Students: Tangela and Isabel Grade Hacks The Impact of Variable and Unreliable Grading Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderCHAPTER 5. TRADITIONAL GRADING DEMOTIVATES AND DISEMPOWERS Disengagement and Disempowerment Motivating Students to Do the Wrong Thing So Where Do We Go From Here? Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderCHAPTER 6. A NEW VISION OF GRADING Supporting the Pillars: Coherence A Measured Vision Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderPART III: EQUITABLE GRADING PRACTICESCHAPTER 7. PRACTICES THAT ARE MATHEMATICALLY ACCURATE The Zero The 0-100-Percentage Scale: Early Use and Enduring Flaws The 0–100 Scale’s Orientation Toward Failure Minimum Grading The 0–4 Grading Scale Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderCHAPTER 8. PRACTICES THAT ARE MATHEMATICALLY ACCURATE (CONTINUED) The Problems With Averaging Weighting More Recent Performance Examining the Group Grade Encouraging Productive Group Work Without a Group Grade Our Accuracy Pillar: A Final Thought Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderCHAPTER 9. PRACTICES THAT VALUE KNOWLEDGE, NOT ENVIRONMENT OR BEHAVIOR Examining Extra Credit If the Work Is Important, Require It; If It’s Not, Don’t Include It in the Grade Grading the Work, Not the Timing of the Work What’s the Alternative to Lowering Grades for Late Work? Alternative (Non-Grade) Consequences for Cheating Excluding “Participation” and “Effort” From the Grade Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderCHAPTER 10. PRACTICES THAT VALUE KNOWLEDGE, NOT ENVIRONMENT OR BEHAVIOR (CONTINUED) Homework The Impact of Including Homework in the Grade: Student Voices and Copying Reframing Homework Grades Based Entirely on Summative Assessment Performance Grades to Teach Students, Not to Control Them Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderCHAPTER 11. PRACTICES THAT SUPPORT HOPE AND A GROWTH MINDSET Our Understanding of Motivation Grades and Their Impact on Student Motivation The Role of Mistakes in Learning Minimum Grading (A Revisit) Renaming Grades Retakes and Redos Retakes: Frequent Approaches Retakes: Common Concerns Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderCHAPTER 12. PRACTICES THAT “LIFT THE VEIL” The Veils in Our Schools, and “Hostile Attributional Bias” Rubrics: What Are They, and Why? Scoring Rubrics and Grade Book Entries Using Rubrics to Empower Students “Lifting the Veil” for Tests: The Opacity of Points Beyond Points: Standards Scales The Effects of Standards Transparency Standards-Based Grade Books Veils, Rubrics, and the “Real World” Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderCHAPTER 13. PRACTICES THAT BUILD “SOFT SKILLS” WITHOUT INCLUDING THEM IN THE GRADE “Soft Skills” Grading as Feedback Preparation for the “Real World” Whose “Real World” Are We Talking About? Connecting Soft Skills to Academic Success Two Grades: Academic and “Soft Skills” The Twenty-First Century’s Soft Skill: Self-Regulation Creating a Community of Feedback Student Trackers and Goal-Setting Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderCHAPTER 14. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: NICK AND CATHY Nick: Rethinking Assessments: Getting Away From the Games, and Focusing on Learning Cathy: A Clearer Vision of Excellence Summary of Concepts / Questions to ConsiderEPILOGUE: A RETURN TO MALLORY’S SCHOOLBIBLIOGRAPHYINDEX