I’m excited to announce that September 29 will mark the launch of a new cohort of 15+ school teams from across Oregon that will be exploring policies and practices related to grading and how they are or might be more equitable. It’s a big topic and one with many parameters, and I’ve learned so much with this fantastic ODE team.
I was asked to join the work with my ALP colleague, Bob Dillon through an offer by Dell and Advanced Learning Partnerships. (By the way, Bob is is the co-author of the great Space books on learning spaces and others–check ’em out! And sign up for his blog.) I need to share up front that I am not an expert on equitable grading, but I do have some pretty significant experiences with developing online learning communities going back, well, let’s say…before Facebook. Bob is such a great thinker and is so good at comprehending and evaluating a situation and sharing it back for reflection. I’m glad to have this opportunity to work with him on this initiative.
About the Work
The gist of the matter is that inequitable grading practices that have existed, well, possibly as long as there have been grades. These inequities were exacerbated this past year during the pressures and stress of “remote” learning. However, that experience, as difficult as it was (and still is in many places) helped to exacerbate what has like been years (decades!) of inequitable grading policies and practice. The ODE team is dedicated to helping the educators in their state grapple with the issue rather than accepting the status quo. There has been significant interest in the topic from districts across the state.
A critical component of ODE’s approach is to avoid being directive. They take a position that they don’t tell school and district educators what to do. Instead, they take a stance of empowering educators in their state to evaluate and reflect on their own needs and then giving them resources at their level of need or experience. That has been a guiding principle in this work, and I’m excited to see it roll out over the next few months.
What to Expect
Honestly, I’m not sure, but I am super excited! I have such a good feeling for this project. Luckily there is a wealth of information to support those interested in exploring equitable grading practices, as evidenced by my homework picture. I especially enjoyed What We Know about Grading by Thomas Guskey and Susan Brookhart, two education leaders whose work I have long admired on this and other topics. With these resources and others, the ODE team has been so conscientious about designing the experience for the needs of their constituents and realizing that teams may be at a different place in their exploration of equitable grading.
On September 29 we get to meet the pilot teams that have volunteered to participate. One requirement is that a building-level administrator be a part of the team, because both you and I know that if the principal isn’t on board, nothing happens. From there, the teams will be provided an opportunity to explore five “modules” on both a self-paced-PLC basis as well as interacting with the larger statewide community. The goal is to have teams develop their own for a plan for tackling the aspects of equitable grading that are relevant to their own school culture. I’m excited to see what the teams come up with. I’m looking forward to sharing this experience and learning with them.
Stay tuned for updates!