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Grading for Equity


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Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ABOUT THE AUTHOR PROLOGUE: MALLORY'S DILEMMA PART I: FOUNDATIONS CHAPTER 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 Consider CHAPTER 2. A BRIEF HISTORY OF GRADING The Twentieth Century Context Impact on Schools Grading in the Twentieth Century Summary of Concepts / Questions to Consider PART II: THE CASE FOR CHANGE: HOW TRADITIONAL GRADING THWARTS EFFECTIVE AND EQUITABLE TEACHING AND LEARNING CHAPTER 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 Consider CHAPTER 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 Consider CHAPTER 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 Consider CHAPTER 6. A NEW VISION OF GRADING Supporting the Pillars: Coherence A Measured Vision Summary of Concepts / Questions to Consider PART III: EQUITABLE GRADING PRACTICES CHAPTER 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 Consider CHAPTER 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 Consider CHAPTER 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 Consider CHAPTER 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 Consider CHAPTER 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 Consider CHAPTER 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 Consider CHAPTER 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 Consider CHAPTER 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 Consider EPILOGUE: A RETURN TO MALLORY'S SCHOOL BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX

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.


"This book will stop educators who want to improve their practices with underserved students right in their tracks. Feldman offers an insightful invitation to teachers who dare change the ways in which we have been taught to grade students' products. He demonstrates how our grading practices are grossly under-substantiated and too often unquestioned, and he challenges educators to build equitable assessment tools and mechanisms to support learning and development of all students. Grading for Equity penetrates macro-level grading policies to transform micro-level teaching practices that embrace the cultural and the contextual. A must read for justice-centered educators."

-- Rich Milner, Co-Author of "'These Kids are Out of Control:' Why We Must Reimagine Classroom Management for Equity"
"Wow, Wow Wow!!! This book hooked me as a not-to-be-missed read right from the Prologue. Joe Feldman makes a strong case for shared grading practices to overcome the inequity of traditional grading, with solid reasoning, well-chosen research evidence, and perhaps most significantly, the powerful and frequent use of teacher voice. The chapters' organizing structure encourages thoughtful and reflective reading, and will be particularly beneficial for book study within PLCs. . . . The main message of the book for me is summed up in this quote, 'We teachers cannot continue to sacrifice the integrity and reliability of our grades at the altar of professional autonomy.'"

-- Ken O'Connor, Author and Consultant, "How to Grade for Learning"
"There is growing awareness within the industry of education that traditional grading practices have become a barrier to meaningful student learning. One dilemma is that there is a lack of resources to support educators who want to adopt new grading practices that are both accurate and equitable. Joe Feldman addresses this need with his book, Grading for Equity. Joe skillfully makes a compelling argument for change and offers specific ways educators can make profound differences to their grading practices. Students become intrinsically motivated to learn when their grades accurately measure where they are in the learning process. Students who typically give up any hope of success can now approach learning with a positive growth mindset. Grading for Equity will provide clarity and tools for an individual instructor or as a book study for an entire organization."
-- Jeffrey Tooker, Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services, Placer Union High School District
"Joe Feldman peels back the curtain and shows the many flaws of our traditional grading system. His arguments are convincing - and the alternatives he proposes are both practical and powerful. Reading this book will make you re-think the way you assess students and will inspire you to enact a system that encourages revision and redemption instead of compliance and corruption. " -- Denise Pope, Senior Lecturer, Stanford Graduate School of Education, and Co-Founder, Challenge Success

"We don't usually think of grading when talking about equity, but in Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms, Joe Feldman helps us see why grading is an integral part of an equity agenda. He 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. He reminds us that authentic assessment and transparent grading are essential parts of a culturally responsive classroom. This must-have book will help teachers learn to implement improved, equity-focused grading for impact."

-- Zaretta Hammond, Education Consultant and Author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain

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