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The Power of Ungrading

Insights from Educate, 14th Edition

Jennifer Osborne
Published in
8 min readMay 12, 2021


Welcome to Insights from Educate, the 14th edition of a curated weekly newsletter focused on providing you the latest in education news, research, and professional learning.

As a new teacher, I made the rookie mistake of grading every task I assigned to my students. Grading student work became a form of compliance instead of a way to offer genuine feedback. I thought if I graded all of my students’ work, then they would stay on-task while learning in the process.

What I quickly learned, and what most veteran teachers know, is that spinning my wheels in grading purgatory was not making me a better teacher. I was spending all of my planning marking instead of spending time crafting meaningful lessons and offering constructive feedback.

As I worked my way through more innovative schools, I began to shun grades as a way to measure student learning. I began assessing only summative work, using formative tasks as a guidepost for instruction and feedback. I implemented a culture of mistakes in the classroom encouraging students to take risks in their writing without penalty on their report cards.

In “The Controversial but Useful Practice of ‘Ungrading’ in Teaching Writing,” Rachel Toor explores the methodology of “ungrading” in the context of teaching…



Jennifer Osborne

Educational Leadership Policy Ph.D. Student ⎪Editor of Educate.