Grades are part of the foundation of our schools, and because grades are used to make high-stakes decisions about students–graduation, course placement, scholarships, college admission, even insurance rates–grades are the primary drivers of the achievement gap. That means that if we want to truly increase educational opportunities for all students, but particularly for historically-underserved students, we need to examine our traditional grading practices and make them more equitable.
But we believe deeply that education professionals are just that–professionals–and as such, are looking for opportunities to learn and grow, all with the purpose of having greater success with the students they serve. As opposed to professional “development” or “training”, which suggests that if you just give educators a special program, all they have to do is adapt to it and implement with fidelity, we provide professional learning experiences. We respect, and expect, our participants to be independent thinkers who want to grapple with the hard questions and to find opportunities to integrate, and then translate, new practices and approaches to their classrooms and schools.
Therefore, we lead sessions and conversations by providing participants new information, facilitate a collaborative dialogue for them to make meaning together, provide a safe space for them to experiment with and “try on” the new ideas, and help them reflect and grow–the very same learning experiences we expect them to be providing for their students. One participant described his experience with us as “the most authentic collaborative learning experience I’ve had.”
We also know that we have to constantly evaluate the impact of our work–it can’t just fulfill the adults. That’s why we created the “Equitable Grading Project”, an arm of our organization that is dedicated to qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis to ensure that the work we do benefits students: improving student achievement, reducing grade inflation, and decreasing the achievement and opportunity gaps. to download a copy of the Equitable Grading Project’s recent report, click here, and review our Results.