STEPHEN DAVIS: Portland schools considering 'equitable' grading policies that wouldn't punish cheating

Portland Public Schools is considering the implementation of “equitable grading practices” that would not punish students for ignoring assignments or cheating.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, which obtained a handout of the proposed initiatives, the Portland Public School district is considering eliminating “zeros” as a grade when students cheat or fail to turn in a test or assignment. The district’s purpose of implementing such a policy would be to address the alleged “racial disparities” and “inequities” in grading.

]The concept of refusing to issue students a zero as a grade stems from the book “Grading for Equity” by Joe Feldman. The book proposes that schools should adopt a 0-4 scale instead of 0-100, eliminate zero grades, allow retakes, and not penalize students for submitting their work late.

“Grading practices must counteract institutional biases that have historically rewarded students with privilege and punished those without, and also must protect student grades from our own implicit biases,” Feldman argued in an interview with Harvard Ed Magazine in 2019. “Our grading must stop using points to reward or punish, but instead should teach students the connection between means of learning and the ends — how doing homework is valuable not because of how many points the teacher doles out, but because those actions improve a student’s learning.”

This sort of proposed teaching that Portland Public Schools is considering implementing is yet another example of the left’s “soft bigotry of low expectations.” When students attend school, they are held accountable and evaluated with grades. If we were to remove that incentive, students would learn that they can cheat and have poor time management without any repercussions.

Instead of falsely arguing that the traditional grading system is “rooted in bigotry,” perhaps educators should spend more time fostering relationships with students to help them excel in their studies.

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