Grading for Equity

November 14, 2023
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Arriving to class on time, museum trips, and providing fellow students with Kleenex are traits of a great student; however, these should not be measures that are taken into consideration when teachers provide the final grade. In fact, these practices cause more harm than good regarding grading accuracy and equity.

In this episode, Grading for Equity (Episode 120), we sat down with Joe Feldman, the author of “Grading for Equity”, to explore how teachers, administrators, and entire school systems can break free from outdated grading practices and embrace a more equitable approach that empowers the modern student.

Here are the key ideas we took away from this episode:

  • Feldman emphasizes the importance of grading what truly matters, steering clear of practices like giving extra credit for non-academic activities such as providing tissues. By eliminating irrelevant factors from grading, educators can focus on assessing students based on their actual understanding of the subject matter, creating a more accurate and equitable representation of their knowledge and skills.
  • Grading for equity advocates for inclusive grading practices that accommodate diverse learning styles and backgrounds. Feldman highlights the significance of assessing students through various methods, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of their mastery over time. By considering prolonged exposure and a variety of assessment techniques, educators can better capture a student's true learning journey, fostering a more inclusive educational environment.
  • Implicit bias in exams can disproportionately impact certain student groups, reflecting cultural biases ingrained in traditional assessment methods. Feldman stresses the importance of training teachers to recognize and mitigate these biases. Additionally, providing constructive feedback that encourages learning without discouraging students is crucial. By equipping educators with the knowledge and tools to recognize and combat implicit biases, grading practices can become more fair.
  • Grading for equity advocates for a cultural shift towards viewing grades as motivating rather than punitive. Allowing students the opportunity for retakes and redos reflects real-world scenarios where individuals are given multiple chances to succeed. By embracing these equitable grading practices, students experience reduced stress, classrooms become more positive environments, and there is a decrease in both grade inflation and deflation.

It’s imperative to alter the grading practices of the past century to fit the modern learner. By reevaluating traditional grading systems, embracing inclusivity, addressing implicit bias, and fostering a culture of learning and growth, educators can pave the way for a more equitable educational experience. Joe Feldman's insights provide a roadmap for teachers, administrators, and school systems to adopt grading practices reflecting students' abilities, ensuring a brighter and more equitable future for all learners.

Check out the full podcast for all the details: YouTube | Spotify | Apple Podcasts

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Education Leaders

About the Author

About the Authors

Jerri Kemble

National Academic Advisor



Jamie Saponaro

Director of Community & Professional Learning



Learning and always growing, Jamie Saponaro is an educator with a passion for sharing topics in education that are near and dear to her heart. Her background as an instructional strategies consultant, educational coach and mentor, technology administrator, and middle school teacher have brought her to ClassLink as Director of Community and Professional Learning where she co-hosts the LinkedUp podcast and its boundary-breaking guests.