Step 4 A: Grading and Social Justice


South L.A. student finds a different world at Cal – LA Times

Read this article from The LA Times.  Take notes to collect textual evidence to support your response to:

What issues around traditional K-12 grading practices does this article raise?

In the comment section below, post your response to the above question including supporting textual evidence.


1,003 thoughts on “Step 4 A: Grading and Social Justice

  1. JOSE JARQUIN says:

    In “Grading Policies That Work Against Standards. . . . And How To Fix Them” Thomas R. Guskey makes reference to how schools select a valedictorian. In my opinion, this method is a reflection of the grading methods in K-12 education. This is a big problem because “learning becomes a game of winners and losers.” I remember many of my high school and university classes where I earned high marks, but at the end of the semester most of the “learning” would vanish. In other words, there was a lot of memorization of information without truly understanding the subject matter.


  2. Hernesto Meza says:

    This article brings to points of contention 1. compliance based grading and 2. grading when compared to peers. I feel like many times if the student can follow directions, complete the work and not be a behavior problem, they are given a passing grade. At my school site we see this in the case of students who are recommended to be in the Honors classes. Too many times the students do not have the skills to perform at this level, but because they can follow directions and are “the nice kids” they are placed in these classes. I am a strong supporter of providing these classes to students who request to be in them, but teachers and students need to understand that simply following directions and being nice will not give you a passing grade in an honors class. In the case of Kashawn since he was a nice kid who wanted to go far in life it seems like this could have happened.

    Additionally, another issue that arises is that as teachers we begin giving students grades based on a comparison to the rest of the class and this is truly not fair for the “higher” and “lower” student. Students do not know what they are working towards, they get a false impression of who they are and they can’t really grow. For example, in the case of Kashawn being a student that wants to learn and shows strive to learn, as well as completion of work allowed him to receive a really high GPA, however the realization that he was not as good as he thought came when he arrived at Berkeley and noticed he was struggling. Cations teachers might have compared him with other classmates and seen his strive and given him the A’s, but the true comparison comes from using a rubric and sticking to it so that students like Kashawn understand how they can improve their own skills as opposed to comparing their skills to struggling students and giving him a better grade.


  3. Cris says:

    Kashawn, a 4.0 discovered he wasn’t prepared for College life at Berkely. He thought that a 1 page essay was great work, well thats what his teacher told him and graded him. He wasn’t prepared to use the tool he was given because he didn’t know how to use them because his teachers had graded him differently. I feel he was graded differently because they saw a student who was willing to do his work and put in a lot of effort in South L.A. So Kashawn truly believed he was a true 4.0 student. Unfortunately when he go to Berkley, it was a totally different story.


  4. JOSE JARQUIN says:

    This article raises the following issues with traditional K-12 grading practices:

    1. A high GPA does not necessarily mean that a student has acquired the proper tools to experience success at a college course.
    2. Receiving As on essays does not guarantee academic success in college.
    3. Traditional grading practices don’t assess critical thinking skills which are necessary to experience success in college and in life.


  5. Harmony4681 says:

    What issues around traditional K-12 grading practices does this article raise?
    The article definitely raises many questions about the traditional K-12 grading practices. There’s no question about it. This student has the desire to excel at Cal Berkley. However, he doesn’t know how to use the tools that were given to him to succeed at a university level. His approach to his course work is not up to par as his roommate. There are many possibilities, but perhaps he wasn’t challenged by his teachers in a a profound way. In the article, it stated that his teacher gave him a lower score on his term paper. He use the jargon in a way that didn’t demonstrated a firm understanding about the task. It was kind of like he went through the motions, but not really experiencing them. Sometimes, we overlook some important aspects of academic achievement such as grading students for their reasoning for responding to a particular topic or how they went about resolving a problem. It’s good that we are exploring traditional K-12 grading practices because it forces us to look at our own pedagogy and teaching practices. I know its not easy to reflect how we approach grading, but it is necessary to do so, now more than ever.


  6. Mor says:

    In the article, South L.A. student finds a different world at Cal published. It was very saw what happened to this student. I believed that his teachers fail in giving him the right tools to be successful in college. Unfortunately that is our reality in inner city schools.


  7. Harmony Carroll says:

    This article really outlines the subjectivity in grading. This student got accepted to one of the most prestigious public universities with a high GPA. However he was quick to discover that an A in South LA was not the same as an A in other parts of the country. The prerequisite skills that most students come to Berkeley with were not developed in KaShawn. He even to meet the requirements of remedial classes at Berkeley.

    “The biggest of his burdens was schoolwork. At Jefferson, a long essay took a page and
    perfect grades came after an hour of study a night.
    At Cal, he was among the hardest workers in the dorm, but he could barely keep

    This reflects the subjectivity present in grading. KaShawn was compared to other students at Jefferson High, not students throughout the city or state. This obviously skewed how the teachers evaluated work. While good intentioned, the impact was negative.


  8. Harmony072004 says:

    “He had never felt this kind of failure, nor felt this insecure. The second term was just days away and he had a 1.7 GPA. If he didn’t improve his grades by school year’s end, he would flunk out.” This raises the concern of grading system we are using in our inner schools. Keshawn Campbell had never felt a sense of failure since he was a straight A student while in high school. It is possible that the teachers and administrators desire to see him succeed might have inflated the scores and grades he received in high school. It also raised the concern of college readiness which should start in elementary grades. In a matter of months, he went from an A student to a failing student in writing. I’m glad he found a professor who instead of letting him fail completely, assigns two more assignments to help him improve on his grade. This probably served as a motivation for him to continue persevering and not give up.


  9. In the article, South L.A. student finds a different world at Cal published in the LA Times, Kashawn seems to be a product of our traditional grading system.I was truly saddened by this article and I think this article shows how subjective the grading policies are between teachers and different schools. In addition, I think they hindered him more than helped him. He may have been the top student at his school, however would he have been the top student at another high school. It was apparent that his teachers liked him and wanted him to succeed. Did they make it easy for him to pass? Were they “giving” grades? I think the lack of equity and academic rigor between schools was a determining factor between success and failure in his college experience.


  10. Harmony Figueroa says:

    This particular article raises concerns about not only grading practices, but also concerns about the college preparedness, college guidance and educational rigor of students in the South Los Angeles schools.


  11. D. Gonzalez says:

    It is difficult when grading differs from district to district, school to school, and teacher to teacher. I always remind my students of how competitive it is nowadays to even get into college. You aren’t just competing against your graduating class but those with your same GPA that may or may not be coming from a higher performing school. Teachers within the same school or course may have different grading scales and ways of determining a grade that when students get to college, they are disappointed that what worked for them in high school just isn’t enough anymore.


  12. MRE says:

    The article raises concerns about grading practices and rigor. It seems that his high school experience lacked rigor and the grades he was earning were not necessarily preparing him for the demands his university classes would bring. At Jefferson, for Kashawn, ” a long essay took a page and perfect grades came after an hour of study a night.” I have to wonder how he could have a well developed argument, or well thought out point of view, on a single page. I knew of several peers at the university who struggled with writing and the professor made it very clear that he would not give them the disservice of passing them but did offer to teach them how to write an essay. Perhaps all students, regardless of school, should be graded based on the same rubrics so that a 4 in South Los Angeles is more or less equal to a 4 in Beverly Hills.


  13. Harmony mhc says:

    “None of his essays had been good enough to receive passing grades.” How could Kashawn have gotten such high marks in high school if he is unable to construct a well written essay. The question of whether this South L.A. student is truly prepared for college is raised.


  14. msmartinez says:

    “But at the semester got going, he began to stumble. The first essay for the writing class that accounted for half of his course load was so bad his teacher gave him a “No Pass”. I was painfully reminded of my own experience as a freshman; I too struggled in my undergraduate writing coarse. I had to take a basic composition class, but I had taken AP English in high school! Clearly, expectations at my high school were not to par with the expectations at the university level, as with Kashawn’s high school. “Ive learned the hard way that academics are not who your are. They are something you need to learn to get to the next level of life, but they can’t define me.” I passed the basic composition class and later earned a “C” in the writing course.


  15. Rachel says:

    In the article, South L.A. student finds a different world at Cal published in the LA Times, address issues around the traditional K-12 grading practices. The problems the articles address the lack of rigor and the disconnect between assessment and instruction. The high school offered social and emotional components to be college and career ready, but forgot the importance to teach the skills necessary to be successful postsecondary. The student in the article earned grades that did not reflect the student proficiency. This addresses the issue on what does an “A, B, or C” represent?


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