A Virginia high school has become a center of controversy between a group of teachers and a new “woke” education policy, getting rid of homework and handing out extra credit in the name of an “equitable” grading system.
Last October, the Arlington Public Schools system proposed new policies to soften grading and work requirements. A group of teachers at the system’s Wakefield High School wrote to the superintendent and school board, arguing that the plan harms the children it claims it is designed to help.
The letter stated that the changes would lead to a decline in the “high expectations and rigor” in high schools. It argues that not holding students accountable to those standards will harm the “most needy students” in their preparation and hopes for post-secondary opportunities.
The district claims the new policies will transform current conditions that lead to “biased grades” and penalize students with “fewer resources.” The Wakefield High teachers argue that the remote learning experiences of the last two years provide evidence that students do not entirely work without grades.
The new guidelines allow students to have unlimited “redos” on assignments, which the district says will “increase rigor” by helping students to “achieve mastery” through repeated attempts rather than forcing them to “accept failure.”
District Spokesperson Frank Bellavia said that officials are still in the “early stages” of updating grading guidelines for all schools in the system. Staffers are expected to revise draft policies and provide feedback to the board, which will take action on the proposals in May. If approved, the plans will be implemented next school year.
A public presentation provided by the Arlington School Board indicates that the book Grading inspired the proposed grading guidelines for Equity by “antiracist” policy advocate Joe Feldman. He believes traditional grading practices reward the students who “have the privilege” while punishing all others.