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Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms
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Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  423 ratings  ·  78 reviews
"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."

--Zaretta Hammond, Author of Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain Crack open the grading conversation

Here at la
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Paperback, 296 pages
Published October 15th 2018 by Corwin Publishers
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Average rating 4.46  · 
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Melissa
This by far is the best book I have read that explains the toxic grading practices in depth and how they create more inequity in our classrooms. It is a must read for all educators.
Abby
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has some great ideas and I have some takeaways that I love and plan on implementing. That being said, there were some aspects that I don’t think were well done.

There were small inconsequential errors that disrupted the flow, such as saying Galileo thought the Earth was at the center of the universe and that the hundredths place is the third number after the decimal. The author also seems to seriously underestimate the intelligence of teachers. He wrote repeatedly that I likely have no
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Sean
Jun 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book made so much sense! I’m feeling excited and invigorated to implement more equitable grading in my classroom. It will change my practice in a big way and it will make things was more clear. Hopefully, after adjusting to it, students will be able to understand the point of grades and become more intrinsically motivated.
Sacha
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I finished my second read of this book recently, but I feel like I've read it many more times because I am constantly referencing pieces of it. While I am still struggling to activate some of the concepts that Feldman advocates for here, I have integrated several into my teaching, and I look forward to continuing that work.

If you're a teacher or professor looking to enhance equity in your classroom, this is an excellent place to start. It doesn't have to be an entire system overhaul, but readin
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Bowman Dickson
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So good. I struggle sometimes thinking about tangible ways to dismantle white supremacy in the classroom and folks, your grading systems are certainly one! Thoughtful, easy to read, practical, really well done.
Amy Cavanaugh
May 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Broadly, this is an important read for all educators. Evaluating our own grading practices has never been more important. I appreciated the nuance, detail, and scope of this text, starting with a foundational understanding of "how we got here", the roots traditional grading practices have in the industrial revolution and capitalism, and how these traditional practices provide hugely inaccurate understandings of student progress. The book goes on to ask important questions of educators about thei ...more
Megan Lawson
Mar 24, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I did enjoy this book, though it may have frustrated me even more (especially the parts about not understanding the math of grading, I mean come on, it's weighted percentages, that's not difficult math). I like the ideas presented, I think they are important ideas presented. But I also think we have a system in place around grading that is so deep that as one teacher, or even in my case of this book study, five teachers cannot remake the entire system.

So I wanted some practical solutions and th
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Lauren
Feb 12, 2021 rated it liked it
Very thought provoking, well designed, and fully grounded in research. After reading this book, I feel good about many of my school's grading policies, such as allowing late work and retakes/revisions. However, I am now even more aware of areas where we/I could improve, such as moving to standards-based grades rather than letter grades and calibrating grades with other teachers and external measures of achievement. I am also left with some questions that don't have easy answers.

For example, how
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Terry Jess
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was finally able to unpack the box with this book and get back into it. It really is THE text on grading. Preservice teachers should have it as required reading and schools need to take deep dives into it. I had been hypercritical of my own grading practices over the last four years and had developed an equitable, standards based grading model for my classes, and this book put a lot of data and reasoning into words that validated my choices. It is all useful for those still using traditional g ...more
Kate
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book lays out a very clear argument for why traditional grading practices
1. are bias-prone
2. mathematically unsound
3. demotivating for students
4. obfuscate information about student learning

A worthwhile read if you're working in school that uses A-F and 0-100 grading practices/software and incorporates things like attendance, HW, participation and effort into grades. More attention is given to what's wrong with this system than what we should replace it with and, it is longer and more repet
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Joe
Jun 08, 2021 rated it liked it
I recently worked with a group of college teachers who are big fans of this book and pressed me to read it. I have to say that I’m not much taken by it. I get the premise: You want to grade students on outcomes, on what they know or can do, not on their compliance with classroom rules about attendance, deadlines, and the like.

Fair enough, I suppose, but it seems to me that this emphasis on individual outcomes tends to gloss over the value of becoming part of an intellectual community. What if w
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Lynsey
May 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book was really enlightening and offered lots of practical suggestions for implementation. I would recommend this to anyone who teaches or works in a middle or high school that uses traditional grading practices. I will be making some changes to my practices based on this book.
Caitlin Tiffany
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Revolutionary and mind blowing. Provides actionable steps to more equitable grading.
Julie Jaeger
May 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Practical plan to move into equitable grading practices. Gives all the tools. Great book.
David Schuster
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
While I think this book has some neat ideas, I was stunned at how little the author thinks of teachers' mathematical ability. While he kowtowed pretty carefully around general teacher ability and intention, he told me several times that I probably don't know how my grading software works. And even if I do, he said, it's not "mathematically accurate."

I know how very very difficult it is to try to get someone to want change what they're doing - you've got to convince them that there's something wr
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Suzanne
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had heard about this book several times but got the inspiration to finally read it because my district offered a book club reading of it. It is definitely such an important read to question the practices that drive so much of our educational systems. The ideas for rethinking our grading policies are provided with tangible examples and at the same time connected to the deeper messages that they communicate to students about learning, the purpose of education, and their own self-efficacy. I am g ...more
Anna
Feb 23, 2021 rated it liked it
After you've cringed and agonized over having wronged students with inaccurate, biased and de-motivational grading practices, there are bright lights ahead: avoiding zeros; minimum grading; 0-4 scale; weighting more recent performance; grading based on an individual's achievement, not the group's; grading based on required content, not extra credit; grading based on student work, not the timing of the work; alternative (non-grade) consequences for cheating; excluding participation and effort; gr ...more
Jen Ghastin
Mar 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Transformative. I read this book as part of an inter district book club. By the last chapter, my gradebook, grading, and teaching practices had completely transformed. I think talking about grading is a little like Plato’s allegory of the cave - you have to get in there and experiment in order to really see how it all works. When I finally made a “standards” category in my gradebook (and entered each of the standards as a non-graded assignment) I finally saw the big picture, the whole story, whe ...more
Craig
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education, nonfiction
Very good synthesis of the problems with traditional point-based grading and clear suggestions on alternative practices that make grading more transparent to students and less susceptible to implicit biases.
Kevin Parkinson
May 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I'm not being hyperbolic when I say this is one of the absolute best and most important books about education I have ever read. First, I love books like this that examine the pervasive parts of our work that are often unexamined despite their omnipresence. Grading is a perfect example. It is such a dominating force in the work we do. Nonetheless, there are so many parts of grading that are not intentional at this point. We have simply inherited them. For example, let's say that a student has ear ...more
Steve Markley
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-for-work
Good jumping off point for any teacher looking to update their grading system. The ideas aren't new in the book, and this book shouldn't be taken as gospel. However, I already use many of the practices in this book and agree they are both successful and equitable. However, some of the practices described come with significant growing pains and, in the case of Standards Based Gradebook, are near impossible with the current standards framework. Not a bad idea, just not practical.

Where this book fa
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Elizabeth Clayton-Bennett
Really 3.5 There is much to like in this book. When I was about 1/2 through, I would have given it 5 stars. I found myself agreeing with most of what Feldman has to say about what is wrong (and inequitable) about current grading practices. Then when I was about 3/4 of the way through, I would have given it maybe two stars. I was so frustrated with certain suggestions to improve grading that I stopped reading it for a period of time. I finally finished it. I'm glad I read it and there are certain ...more
Erica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessica Liew
Mar 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
If you have been exploring standards-based grading already, this book doesn't offer any earth-shattering information, but it definitely helps connect SBG practices to creating more equity in our grading practices. It also introduces a few strategies that I have not come across before, like minimum grading.

The book repeats itself a lot, which is common in professional development and self-help books, but it did start to frustrate me to see the same points made multiple times and excess examples
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Karen
[education book #11] made it to the last book in my little pre-teaching education book sprint! having been a student for 17 years of my life, i think i always took grading policies as a given and learned how to benefit from that system. this book really made me think about the assumptions and pre-existing conditions that create such a widely perpetuated system in k-12 and higher education. it’s also making me quite confused/conflicted about how to construct my syllabus for this semester...

as som
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J
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Feldman presents the best argument I’ve ever read regarding grading.

This book is split up into three parts with the last comprising the bulk of it. Part 3 is dedicated to presenting actionable strategies for implementing equitable grading practices.

There is only argument that I found myself not in agreement. But I will leave that topic for another discussion. And to those teachers who find themselves up against the bias of the familiar amongst their colleagues, take heart. These strategies are
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Genevieve
Apr 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
A true game changer. Still kind of offended it's thrown me into such a existential crisis. But it's clearly needed. And I'm excited to experiment.

While the focus is on how this benefits are most vulnerable students, which it should, I do think it's important in my review here, to emphasize that the practices in this book are for the benefit of teachers as well. If I told you that you could spend less time grading BS copied homework, didn't have to do crazy math calculations didn't need to feel
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Ernie Rambo
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For years, I tinkered with traditional grading systems-trying to create a way to accurately show what students were learning. Joe Feldman provides evidence, examples, and rationale for creating a grading approach that supports student learning. The explanations provided insight to the haphazard approaches that my school district implemented (without providing ample background, rationale, and support) in their efforts to provide more equitable grading. Teachers can use this book as a guide to ref ...more
Ashley
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Every teacher who wants to be a fair and equitable grader (and shouldn’t that be all teachers) must read this book. For the last few years, I have been amending my grading practices to reflect student knowledge (not behavior), and to provide feedback that supports a growth mindset. 2020 helped me to better understand that as a teacher I am part of a system that has not been equitable or fair to students of color, lower socioeconomic status, or who have special needs. It is my goal to recognize m ...more
Kathleen
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As other reviewers here have said, the fact that the author thinks that teachers don't understand the mathematics behind grading systems detracts a little bit from his otherwise excellent points. Feldman advocates for grading that reduces the importance of homework and "motivational" grades to the barest minimum as a way of increasing students' intrinsic motivation and, consequentially, their learning. He urges grading that focuses less on compliance and more on actual knowledge and skills. A ke ...more
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21 likes · 3 comments
“Unfortunately, in most classrooms teachers penalize students for mistakes they make during the learning process, for assignments that prepare them for the test. Students lose points for errors (and for answers they don’t complete) on homework, classwork, and on any task that the teacher designs to help students learn content. Those scores are entered into the gradebook and included in the overall calculation of a student’s grade. With this grading approach, student mistakes are penalized during the very stage of learning when students should be making mistakes. If mistakes on any work—homework assignments, tests, quizzes, in-class worksheets, discussions—are always penalized with a score that is incorporated into a grade no matter whether those mistakes occur at the beginning, middle, or end of learning, then the message is that mistakes aren’t ever acceptable, much less desired, and they certainly aren’t ever valuable. Students will be discouraged, not encouraged, to take risks and be vulnerable.” 0 likes
“Even worse, traditional grading that penalizes students for mistakes often isn’t just limited to a student’s academic work. Teachers often assign grades based on mistakes in students’ behaviors as well: downgrading a score if an assignment is late, subtracting points from a daily participation grade if a student is tardy to class, or lowering a group’s grade if the group becomes too noisy while they work. In this environment, every mistake is penalized and incorporated into the final grade. Even if just a few points are docked for forgetting to bring a notebook to class or losing a few points for not heading a paper correctly, the message is clear: All mistakes result in penalties. While some might argue that this is simply accountability—“I asked the students to do something, so it has to count”—it’s missing the forest for the trees. The more assignments and behaviors a teacher grades, the less willing a student will be to reveal her weaknesses and vulnerability. With no zones of learning that are “grade free,” it becomes nearly impossible to build an effective teacher–student relationship and positive learning environment in which students try new things, venture into unfamiliar learning territory, or feel comfortable making errors, and grow. When everything a student does is graded, and every mistake counts against her grade, that student can perceive that to receive a good grade she has to be perfect all of the time. Students don’t feel trust in their teachers, only the pressure to conceal weaknesses and avoid errors.” 0 likes
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