Inequitable Grading Practices: Averaging

For my third poll in a large Facebook group of 12,600 language teachers in this mini-series on inequity and grading, I asked about averaging. A FRACTION of teachers responded this time, with a total of just 80. Compared to the previous poll participants of 585 for late work penalties, and then 625 for homework, I wonder if this is because averaging is something teachers let the gradebook handle without giving it much thought. Most teachers don’t question homework, but they still play a more active role in creating and assigning it, right? Even setting late policies is something teachers…do. Averaging, though? Looks like we might be in a “set it and forget it” situation. The thing is, the gradebook only does what we tell it to (or its default setting), so if we’re not thinking about that, well…

Poll results had the majority (60) doing some kind of averaging. Let’s unpack all that.

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Inequitable Grading Practices: Homework & Zeros

Like grades, homework in school is just as expected as yellow buses, questionable cafeteria lunch, rank & file desks, band, and of course, football. Homework is such a part of school culture that it’s hardly given a second thought by the teachers who assign it. I’m sure there’s the following definition somewhere, too:

teacher (n.) = Overqualified and underpaid professional who assigns homework over vacation

Unlike using the lens of standards-based grading (SBG) to illustrate the inequity of late work, the inequity of homework should be self-evident: we cannot monitor student learning, and the home environment—if there is a home—differs from student to student. Some of those environments are conducive to learning, and others not so much. When teachers grade homework, they contribute to keeping those with privilege soaring high while those without get hit with more obstacles. Most teachers not giving homework much thought at least understood how to play the school game (whether or not they did it as students, themselves). Therefore, I’m guessing that the thought of not having a quiet space to do homework, the freedom of not needing to take care of family members, or responsibility of working at the family’s restaurant is questioned by probably just 1% of teachers assigning it. And it’s quite possible that in some communities these situations are completely unheard of. Or, they’re just lurking in the shadows, still there.

For the second week, I polled a Facebook group of 12,600 language teachers, this time on their homework grading policies. After about a week, 625 responded. A little under a quarter (139) grade homework one way or another (e.g., completion, rubric, etc.), with the majority of them (109) dropping a zero in the gradebook if not done.

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Inequitable Grading Practices: Late Work Penalties

I polled a Facebook group of 12,600 language teachers on their late work grading policies. After about a week, 585 responded. A little under half (255) apply some kind of penalty, whether work is accepted through the entire grading term, within some window or not at all after its due date. If we look at this practice from the perspective of grading standards (vs. completion, or whatever else), it can shed light on how inequitable late work penalties are…

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Proficiency Grading: The last rubrics you’ll ever need

**Updated Expectations Rubric**

OK, so maybe you’re not ready for a complete grading overhaul, or it might be that you arebut someone else isn’t. In this new post, I offer an example of how to use Proficiency goal rubrics independently within a traditional department-defined system using common grading categories. A simple process would be to keep the categories your department has, and use the Proficiency goal rubrics to grade work. A more complete process requires renaming grading categories for the sake of consistency, and communicating CI principles, but otherwise keeping the weights intact. I describe the more complete process in this post.

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A New Grading System: The last one you’ll ever need (once you’re ready)

**Updated Expectations Rubric**

This grading system is the result of my experience combining common weighted grading categories (e.g. Homework, Unit Tests, Quizzes, etc.) with Standards Based Grading (SBG), and a Classroom Management (adaptation of Robert Patrick’s D.E.A.). Despite overall positive outcomes, the combination had its drawbacks. Besides, the longer I teach, 1) the less explicit instruction I give, and 2) the more streamlined/simple my practices become. From what I’ve learned from veteran teachers, this is a normal progression for a teacher, but I seem to have skipped about 10 years of trial and error. This new grading system is extremely easy to use as a teacher and extremely clear to understand as a student.

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