Education /

Schools Scrapping Homework, Deadlines In Shift To 'Equitable Grading'

Students and teachers say the new system has created a culture of apathy

Teachers across the U.S. are introducing sweeping changes to how their classrooms are governed in a bid to make education more “equitable.”

Under the new learning formats, homework and deadlines will be relics of the past, as educators move toward ways to measure what a student knows at the end of a term, rather than grading throughout the entire term, which some say can introduce bias by penalizing behavior.

Proponents of the new approach say traditional learning favors students with a stable home life and more hands-on parents, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

“We’re giving children hope and the opportunity to learn right up until [the class is] officially over,” Michael Rinaldi, the principal at Westhill High School in Stamford, Connecticut, told WSJ.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) began pushing the idea of equitable grading years ago, advocating for a system where teachers weigh more recent performance and growth instead of averaging performance over time. This system would also encourage teachers to permit test and project do-overs, replacing previous scores with newer scores.

NSBA officials say “supporting students’ intrinsic motivation to learn rather than relying on an external system where every action is worth ‘points.’”

However, as WSJ reported, both teachers and students have found that the changes have led to students who game the system.

Samuel Hwang, a senior at Ed W. Clark High School in Las Vegas, told WSJ there is now an “apathy that pervades the entire classroom,” while adding that schools are incentivizing poor work habits.

“If you go to a job in real life, you can’t pick and choose what tasks you want to do and only do the quote big ones,” Alyson Henderson, a Las Vegas-based high-school English teacher told WSJ. “We’re really setting students up for a false sense of reality.”

Under the equitable grading system, rather than starting at zero, the grading scale begins at 49 or 50 percent, a floor meant to keep a student’s grade from sinking so low from a handful of bad assignments that they feel they’re unable to catch up, according to WSJ.

Also, under the new system, extra credit is banned. 

Various social media users took jabs at the new system.

Philip Greenspun, teacher at MIT and Harvard Medical School, wrote on Twitter: “The experts say that nothing needs to be done at home because everything relevant for learning can be done at school? And from 2020-2022 the same experts said that nothing needs to be done at school because everything relevant for learning can be done at home?”

John Williams Sr., MD, MPH, wrote on Twitter: “Just do away with grades, no assignments anymore and no requirements for classroom attendance. Everybody gets a diploma and nobody gets stressed. Problem solved?”


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