An Illinois school district is moving to an overtly racist grading system: one that deems black students as racially unable to attend class regularly, behave properly on the rare occasions when they are there, or turn in their assignments.
Board members of the Oak Park and River Forest High School (OPRF) district called the plan “Transformative Education Professional Development & Grading” at a meeting on May 26, presented by Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Laurie Fiorenza. This is a jargon-heavy way of saying that standards will be lowered for black students because black students are unable to meet the standards of other races.
Fiorenza called for a switch to racist grading in 2021, since too many students got F grades in the 2020-21 school year.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, 38 percent of OPRF sophomore students taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) failed. The OPRF failure rate was 77 percent for black students, 49 percent for Hispanics, 27 percent for Asians and 25 percent for whites.
“Traditional grading practices perpetuate inequities and intensify the opportunity gap,” reads a slide in a PowerPoint presentation outlining the program. It calls vaguely for what OPRF leaders referred to as “competency-based grading, eliminating zeros from the grade book … encouraging and rewarding growth over time.”
Teachers are being instructed how to assess this “growth.”
Calling the lowering of standards a way to exercise their “core beliefs,” the district said it plans to integrate the practice into all academic and elective courses” by fall 2023.
Advocates for so-called “equity based” grading practices all but state that the new policy will counteract the threat of … racist teachers:
“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 of the Education Advisory Board, which sells consulting services to colleges and universities
Sullivan said traditional classroom grading and homework requirements are “outdated practices” and foster “unconscious biases.”