Why It's Crucial -- And Really Hard -- To Talk About More Equitable Grading

Why It's Crucial -- And Really Hard -- To Talk About More Equitable Grading

"Prologue: Mallory's Dilemma" excerpted from Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Tran... by Joe Feldman. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2019.

This is the first article in a two-part series about equitable grading practices. This article sets up some of the challenges. In part two, learn how teachers are addressing this issue.

By Joe Feldman

The data couldn't be possible. Actually, it shouldn't be possible.

Mallory had just completed her first year as principal of Centennial College Prep Middle School, a new public charter school in Huntington Park, California. As a young, white woman leading a school that served nearly all Latino students, many living below the poverty line, Mallory had approached her job humbly, not immediately pushing initiatives and changing policies to align to her own personal vision (what she called the “new sheriff in town approach”). Instead, her priority was to first understand her school community: its context, history, strengths, and needs. She had watched, listened, and built relationships with her faculty, students, and their families. She had visited classrooms, reviewed teachers’ lesson plans, and studied the school’s statistics: attendance percentages, disciplinary referrals, and test scores.

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