Part Four: Changes to make

By Ken Shelton and Nadia Razi

As classroom teachers, we have to assign grades. We spend endless hours grading and engage in countless discussions about grades, but once a student is out of our class, their grade will probably never again cross our mind. Students, however, carry their grades forever: academic Scarlet Letters that dictate their future. By the time students apply for college or a job, their grades weigh heavily on future opportunities.

GPA: Grading’s Performative Actions

Grade point average (GPA) is essentially the cumulative average of all grades, measured either by raw numbers or weighted averages for honors…


Part Three: Inequitable Grading Practices

By Ken Shelton and Nadia Razi

In order to understand how to sustainably implement equitable grading practices, it is important to understand the inequity of our current practices. As we have touched on previously, any systems or policies that are part of the school game are inequitable by design. They do not account for the myriad of ways learning occurs, how that knowledge and learning can be represented, nor do they account for inherent teacher bias. …


Part Two: School as we know it — academic gamification

By Ken Shelton and Nadia Razi

We love games. Games are fun. Games are engaging. But, what constitutes a game? There is a definable set of rules. There is, more often than not, a clear winner and loser. Frequently, success is predicated on skills, talents, and often, luck. Under these circumstances, we know that if we put ourselves at a competitive advantage within that set of rules, we can increase our chances of success. However, what happens when the rules are arbitrarily applied and manipulated? Or when the participants engage in unscrupulous actions (sometimes we refer to this as cheating)…


Part One: What are we actually grading anyway?

By Ken Shelton and Nadia Razi

In this multi-part series, Ken and Nadia will present a detailed examination, analysis, and interrogation on the enduring norm we call grading. We will examine the embedded purpose of grading, policies that are inequitable by design, and potential solutions that will not only provide a pathway towards reform but also be aligned with a more just and equitable system.

Though we have reworked policies and practices in the spirit of educational equity, grading remains a longstanding tradition that hasn’t changed much since before we were students ourselves. Using an antiquated percentage system (that makes…


I have noticed both an encouraging and a discouraging pattern when it comes to schools, school districts, and organizations looking at professional learning in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). On one hand you have the ever increasing awareness around the importance and critical need for learning growth in this area. On the other hand, this increase has led to the inevitable “mistakes,” box checking, and flat out educational malpractice when it comes to this work. …


Image obtained from New York Post

There is a funny story I remember hearing some years ago by the late David Foster Wallace in a commencement address like this.

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

I thought of this joke again after having a conversation about cultural…

Ken Shelton

Keynote Speaker, TEDx Speaker, AB/AR Educator, Google Certified Innovator, Apple Distinguished Educator, MIEE, Visual Storyteller, (http://kennethshelton.net)

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