Last Updated on May 31, 2022
A Chicago High School is implementing a race-based grading criteria in order to “adjust classroom grading scales to “account for skin color or ethnicity of its students.” A slide used in a presentation in which the new policy was announced claimed that “traditional grading practices perpetuate inequities.”
Oak Park and River Forest High School administrators will require teachers to adjust their exiting grading criteria based on the new guidelines West Cook News.
Depending on their race, students will not be disciplined or see their grades slip for missing class, misbehaving in school, or for failing to turn in assignments. Black students will be given the most leeway while their White and Asian counterparts will receive no such leniency.
School board members discussed the plan called “Transformative Education Professional Development & Grading” at a meeting on May 26, which was presented by Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Laurie Fiorenza.
“Traditional grading practices perpetuate inequities and intensify the opportunity gap,” reads a slide in a PowerPoint presentation that outlined the new policy’s rationale and goals.
Teachers have also been reminded to keep the district’s political philosophies in mind. “Teachers and administrators at OPRFHS will continue the process necessary to make grading improvements that reflect our core beliefs,” the plan states.
The new policy is expected to be implemented by the Fall of 2023.
“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 [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice],” said Margaret Sullivan, who serves as associate director at the Education Advisory Board.
According to Sullivan, merit-based grading systems are “outdated practices” that affirm “unconscious biases.”
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, 38 percent of the district’s sophomore students taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) failed. The district’s failure rate broke down to 77% among Black students, 49 percent for Hispanics, 27 percent for Asians and 25 percent for White students.
Proponents of “equity based” grading aim to raise the grade-point-averages of Black students at the expense of their classmates of other ethnicities, particularly White and Asian students.