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Crescendo Education Group facilitates school improvement through improving the accuracy and fairness of teachers’ grading and assessment. The critical examination of how we grade might seem incidental to equity work and at the same time overwhelming to re-imagine, but improving grading is an incredibly powerful lever for strengthening equity in every element of teaching and learning. As one teacher we’ve worked with has said, “Grading overlaps with everything teachers do, and it gets to the fundamental relationship between students and teachers.” Asking teachers to examine their grading practices can be challenging because of this tight relationship to teachers’ daily work and core beliefs about teaching and learning. Therefore, we don’t believe a “stand and deliver” professional development is appropriate, effective, or respectful of teachers’ capacities as adult learners.

Instead, we use a inquiry-based approach that is embedded directly in the day-to-day contexts of the teachers’ classrooms, where the teachers work together to explore different grading practices. This method of professional development is not only proven through research to be one of the most powerful ways to improve teacher practice (e.g., Elmore), but teachers report that professional learning with us has been “the most authentic collaboration experience” they’ve had with their colleagues. And most importantly for students, Crescendo Education Group has a proven track record with improving grading practices that result in higher student passing rates and that give students a greater sense of agency and ownership for performance. See our Results.

Inquiry-Based Iterative Learning DesignDesign Thinking Cycle

Expected Outcomes from our partnership with schools/districts:

For teachers:

  1. Teachers use improved methods of standards-based grading tied to Common Core State Standards or other mastery and assessment standards and rubrics
  2. Teachers use grading and assessment practices that are more accurate, fair, and understandable to students, caregivers, school staff, and external communities (colleges, employers)
  3. Teachers have qualitative and quantitative evidence of the impact of formative assessment and grading practices in the context of their own classroom
  4. Teachers have stronger collaborative relationships among staff and a greater sense of efficacy with influencing student performance

For students:

  1. Students can more accurately describe expectations for their academic outcomes, and their own place relative to those outcomes
  2. Students have a greater sense of agency and efficacy about their academic performance
  3. Students have a stronger sense of belief in their own success and of trust in their teachers

For the district:

  1. Course passing rates increase and, at the same time, less grade inflation
  2. “Teacher-endorsed” support for consistent grading and reporting policies that are sustainable (the district doesn’t have to create a top-down policy and be responsible for enforcement)
  3. Improved conversations with caregiver/parent community about student expectations for CCSS mastery