Virginia Teachers Fight Woke Plan To Kill Extra Credit, Homework Grades

Educators warn that push for 'equity' will harm the most disadvantaged students

Ashburn, Va., classroom / Getty Images
January 4, 2022

Teachers at a Virginia high school are pushing back against a plan to eliminate homework grades and extra credit in order to create a more "equitable" grading system.

Arlington Public Schools in October proposed the new system, which would also end penalties for late homework assignments. In a letter to the Arlington School Board and superintendent, teachers at Wakefield High School said the district’s plan would hurt the very children it intends to help.

"The changes, if implemented, will also result in the decline of high expectations and rigor in the classroom across all [district] high schools," the teachers said in the letter, which was first reported by WJLA. Not holding students accountable, the teachers said, will give the "most needy students reduced probability of preparing for and realizing post-secondary opportunities."

The proposed framework would transform a system district officials claim "leads to biased grades" and "penalizes" students with "fewer resources." But according to the Wakefield teachers, the district’s remote learning experience proves that students will not complete assignments without grades.

Under the proposed guidelines, students are allowed unlimited redos on assignments, which the district claims will "increase rigor" by motivating students to "achieve mastery rather than accept failure." At least three elementary and middle schools in the district have implemented similar plans, according to documents the school district shared with the Washington Free Beacon. 

Arlington Public Schools officials are in "the early stages" of updating grading rubrics for districtwide use, spokesman Frank Bellavia told the Free Beacon. Staffers will provide feedback and bring revised policies to the Arlington School Board, which is scheduled to act on the recommendations in May, Bellavia said. 

If approved, the district will work over the summer to create implementation plans for the 2022-2023 school year.

An Arlington School Board presentation shows that the district’s proposed grading framework was inspired by "antiracist" advocate Joe Feldman’s book Grading for Equity. Feldman, the CEO of a progressive education consulting firm, has said he believes standard grading practices "reward students who have privilege and punish those who don’t."