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Some schools changing grading scale to make education more equitable

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Posted at 11:25 AM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 14:25:37-04

Some places are changing their grading scale in an effort to make grades more equitable among students.

Education experts say the traditional 0-100 grading scale is mathematically allocated toward failure.

If a student knows the work, but scores just one “0” on an assignment, they still risk failing.

Some school districts are moving to a 50-point scale, or what some education experts see as a more equitable scale, like the 0-4 system, which is the same way GPAs are determined.

“What you've done then is you know if you had a B,B and an F – (then you’d get a) 3, 3 and a 0. The average is like a 2-something, which is a C-, which is what we would want it to be,” said Joe Feldman, Author and CEO at the Crescendo Education Group.

Joe Feldman is a former teacher who helps school districts become more equitable.

He says strict deadlines affect students who are historically under-served.

Under-served students are more likely to have interruptions, more stress, challenges or more responsibility in their lives.

He says removing grading penalties for behavior and moving to a smaller scale also allows for less variation when determining if a student actually knows the material.

“If I have a piece of work, I’m more likely to have teachers who agree on the quality of that work when there are fewer choices to select as the grade. And what makes that more equitable is that we know that implicit biases can affect how teachers grade assignments,” he said.

Feldman said teachers hardly receive any training on how to grade.

Educators told him when they allow re-takes and late turn-ins, the quality of work goes up.

Students are less likely to copy work just to turn it in on time or give up altogether.

Other educators involved in efforts to eliminate bias in curriculum and assessment say, historically disadvantaged students often aren't challenged enough.

“They're given content and problems well below their aptitude. And, as a consequence, not only are they not getting prepared they're bored to tears,” said Mike Magee, CEO at Chiefs for Change.

Part of the challenge in changing grades is effectively communicating why this is happening to teachers, students and caregivers, experts said.