Grading is Capitalist, Racist, and Exploitative

Ken Shelton
Jun 15 · 8 min read

Part Four: Changes to make

By Ken Shelton and Nadia Razi

  • Try standards-based grading- establishing a set core of definitive and definable standards is one of the more effective ways to eliminate teacher bias in grading. Having clearly articulated and unambiguous measures for each level of proficiency provides an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and understanding while avoiding ambiguous scales. Eliminate criteria such as originality and creativity from all grading guidelines. It is not equitable to apply objective measures to subjective works.
  • Assessment- consider the different types: assessment for learning, of learning, and as learning. In all three, improvement is seen as a positive and treated as such (this is why we’d choose Student B to pack our parachutes). Improvement > Achievement.
  • The 4 Rs- all student works should allow for reflection, revision(s), and resubmission/retake. Place value on the process, not just the final product.
  • The 3 Ps- performance, progress, and process. This is where grading can be highly individualized and differentiated. Each student is gauged by their own performance, progress, and their process against previous works. It is vital to include students in each component of the 3 Ps.
  • Reward critical thinking- rather than expecting memorization and regurgitation of material, engage students in critical discourse that encourages higher-level thinking and application of skills or material (DOK 3–4).
  • Use the Anti-Bias Framework- The Learning for Justice Anti-Bias Framework asks students to consider what they are learning in the context of four anti-bias domains: identity, diversity, justice, and action. This framework allows students to make relevant connections with the material, “allows educators to engage a range of anti-bias, multicultural and social justice issues,” and allows students to understand collective trauma in context.
  • Use Interactive Phase Theory- when teaching about the experiences of others, it is important to recognize in which phase of curriculum implementation our classrooms, schools, and districts are. A meaningful consideration of Interactive Phase Theory will result in a more complete and antiracist presentation of curriculum.
  • Encourage imagination in assessment- imagination and dreaming should be part of student learning and assessment, as “research shows that the ability to dream and imagine is an important factor in fostering hopefulness, and optimism,” which can counteract the mental health struggles we discussed in the GPA section, above. Create a space for students to imagine ways assessment can take place with few limitations and lots of possibilities.
  • Start with yourself- meaningful grading reform cannot happen without your commitment to antiracism: read research (start with our links and references!), become familiar with systemic data, understand the cultural experiences of your students, acknowledge and let go of your own privilege and power, and surround yourself with peers who will keep you accountable for antiracism work.

Age of Awareness

Medium’s largest publication dedicated to education reform | Listen to our podcast at aoapodcast.com

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn | Tune in at aoapodcast.com | Connecting 500k+ monthly readers with 1,200+ authors

Ken Shelton

Written by

Keynote Speaker, TEDx Speaker, AB/AR Educator, Google Certified Innovator, Apple Distinguished Educator, MIEE, Visual Storyteller, (http://kennethshelton.net)

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn | Tune in at aoapodcast.com | Connecting 500k+ monthly readers with 1,200+ authors