Chicago High School to 'Implement Race-Based Grading System' to 'Equalize Test Scores Among Racial Groups'

Chris Menahan
May. 31, 2022

"Oak Park and River Forest High School administrators will require teachers next school year to adjust their classroom grading scales to account for the skin color or ethnicity of its students," West Cook News reports.

From West Cook News:
School board members discussed the plan called "Transformative Education Professional Development & Grading" at a meeting on May 26, presented by Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Laurie Fiorenza.

In an effort to equalize test scores among racial groups, OPRF will order its teachers to exclude from their grading assessments variables it says disproportionally hurt the grades of black students. They can no longer be docked for missing class, misbehaving in school or failing to turn in their assignments, according to the plan.

"Traditional grading practices perpetuate inequities and intensify the opportunity gap," reads a slide in the PowerPoint deck outlining its rationale and goals.

It calls for what OPRF leaders describe as "competency-based grading, eliminating zeros from the grade book…encouraging and rewarding growth over time."

Teachers are being instructed how to measure student "growth" while keeping the school leaders' political ideology in mind.

"Teachers and administrators at OPRFHS will continue the process necessary to make grading improvements that reflect our core beliefs," the plan states, promising to "consistently integrate equitable assessment and grading practices into all academic and elective courses" by fall 2023.

[...] Advocates for so-called "equity based" grading practices, which seek to raise the grade point averages of black students and lower scores of higher-achieving Asian, white and Hispanic ones, say new grading criteria are necessary to further school districts' mission of DEIJ, or "Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice."

"By training teachers to remove the non-academic factors from their grading practices and recognize when personal biases manifest, districts can proactively signal a clear commitment toward DEIJ," said Margaret Sullivan, associate director at the Education Advisory Board, which sells consulting services to colleges and universities.

Sullivan calls grading based on traditional classroom testing and homework performance “outdated practices” and foster "unconscious biases."

"Teachers may unintentionally let non-academic factors—like student behavior or whether a student showed up to virtual class—interfere with their final evaluation of students.," she said. "Traditional student grades include non-academic criteria that do not reflect student learning gains—including participation and on-time homework submission."
The standardized testing company ACT earlier this month released a report documenting how endless grade inflation in American high schools could soon lead to every student being handed a 4.0.

"Comparing ACT test takers' race/ethnicity, we found that inflation appears to be greater for Black students than for students who are Hispanic, White, or from other racial/ethnic groups," ACT reported.

"HSGPA is a highly unstandardized measure of achievement because it incorporates not only content mastery or performance on an assessment but also many other factors including effort, participation, and educators' personal impressions," ACT said. "In the college admissions context, this means that the 4.0 from one school may not indicate the same level of content mastery as a 4.0 from another school. This reduces the utility of HSGPA in evaluating college applicants."

Is this what "white privilege" looks like?

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