Grading for Equity
What it is, why it matters, and how it can transform schools and classrooms
Joe Feldman provides a vision for equitable grading with a focus on coherence and mastery learning. Drawing on research and interweaving voices of teachers, researchers, school administrators and students, the author defines grading for equity using three pillars: equitable grading is accurate, bias-resistant, and motivational. Linking theory and practice, the author provides a practical guide using research-informed examples to convince readers that commonly used assessment practices are ineffective and should be replaced with equitable grading practices to improve learning for all students, particularly those who are underserved or vulnerable.
The author provides a historical account of traditional grading practices and challenges readers to consider how shifting to equitable grading practices leads to an improved representation of student learning. Some recommendations for equitable grading practices discussed in the book include: use a 4-point grading scale, weight more recent performances, promote productive group work and high-quality work without a group grade, exclude behaviours from the grade (e.g., lateness, effort, participation), provide non-grade consequences for cheating, use alternatives for late work, reframe homework, allow retakes and opportunities to improve grades, use rubrics to calibrate learning intentions, promote students’ self-regulation and agency through student trackers and goal setting, and more. Zero-grades, averaging, and extra credit, by contrast, are practices Feldman argues should be dropped. Using mathematical comparisons, as well as sample gradebooks, the author dispels myths and demonstrates how formative and summative assessment divisions are not fixed and that arriving at a final grade requires coherent and equitable grading practices, including a teachers’ professional judgment.
Each chapter builds on the next and provides teachers with a valuable guide book and arguments for changing practice and moving towards a standards-based grading model. Using approaches that are mathematically sound, prioritizing knowledge and understanding, supporting hope and a growth mindset, and providing students with clarity for how to succeed, can motivate students to improve their learning. Each chapter concludes with a summary of key concepts and thought-provoking questions, making this a perfect book to discuss with a group of colleagues. The book also has a supporting website with additional resources and examples of equitable grading practices: https://gradingforequity.org