Rethinking Grading

The Rethinking Grading community of practice was established to continue the conversation started during the J-term pedagogy series session, “Are Grades Necessary?” We welcome participation by all faculty and staff who would like to explore the purpose and practices of grading at Middlebury. If you are trying a new approach to grading or are considering doing so, we especially encourage you to join the conversation.

Spring 2016 Meeting Schedule

Tuesday, March 1  Humanities Lunch Exchange discussion, The Challenges of Grading Qualitative Work
12:20 p.m. to 1:20 p.m., Abernethy Room, Axinn Center

Monday, March 14  Lunch and discussion
12:20 p.m. to 1:20 p.m., Grille Conference Room, McCullough

Tuesday, April 5 Lunch and discussion
12:20 p.m. to 1:20 p.m.,Grille Conference Room, McCullough

Monday, April 18  Lunch and discussion
12:20 p.m. to 1:20 p.m., Grille Conference Room, McCullough

Tuesday, May 3 Lunch and discussion
12:20 p.m. to 1:20 p.m.,Grille Conference Room, McCullough

How to Join the Rethinking Grading community of practice

If you are interested in being added to this group’s communications please send an email message to: and explain that you would like to be added to the group.

When you are added to the group we will add you to the membership list below.


The Effects of an Anti-grade-Inflation Policy at Wellesley College , Butcher, Kristin F., Patrick J. McEwan, and Akila Weerapana. 2014,  Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(3): 189-204.

See the two links below for additional info about grading at Wellesley.

The first is about their shadow grading program, in which students receive no formal letter grades during their 1st semester at the college.  They appear to be in the middle of a four-year pilot program that will be formally assessed in spring of 2018 to see if they want to continue with it.

The second link is to more general info about grading at Wellesley, including a more detailed description of their “anti-grade-inflation” policy.


The Case Against Grades   A general discussion of grades and grading, by Alfie Kohn, Educational Leadership, November 2011.


Yes Virginia, There’s a Better Way to Grade  “While we in higher education keep using it, our grading system is broken, argues Linda B. Nilson, and she offers some concrete ways to fix it.” 2016 article from Inside Higher Education.


Contract Grading + Peer Review: Here’s How it Works   An article by Cathy Davidson, Distinguished Professor and Director, The Futures Initiative and HASTAC @ CUNY.


Graded on Looks  “Study finds that attractive female students earn higher grades than unattractive female students do. For male students, looks don’t seem to matter.” Article by Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Education. Original study: Student Appearance and Academic Performance.


A Beginner’s Guide to Standards Based Grading A blog post by Kate Owens, Instructor, Department of Mathematics, College of Charleston, on the American Mathematical Society blog, “On Teaching and Learning Mathematics.”


Google Public Community of Practice  “For educators interested in standards-based grading or specifications grading.”



Amy Morsman Vickie Backus Christian Keathley Susan Greenberg Jeanne Albert
Eddie Vazquez Helen Young Jason Mittell Carrie Wiebe Heather Stafford
Jeremy Ward Kyoko Davis Linus Owens Peter Johnson  Christina Frare
Mary Beth Nevins Jim Ralph Rebecca Tiger Shel Sax  Deb Evans
Marcos Rohena-Madrazo  Ellery Foutch