Democracy in Grading: Practicing What We Preach

Document Type


Publication Title

Critical Questions in Education

Publication Date

Spring 2019


This study examined how teachers’ grading impacts students’ socio-cultural notions of value and worth. At issue was whether teachers can grade in ways that foster democratic ideals; whether authentic democratic environments can truly exist in public school classrooms; and whether or not traditional grading supersedes learning in favor of capitalistic interests. Findings indicated that teachers who champion democratic instruction can use their grading practices to eliminate the need for students to accumulate capital as a means of self-achievement, and can refocus classroom priorities on critical thinking, civility, and promoting a sense of community. One implication of these findings may be that values learned through being assessed and graded in school manifest themselves in students’ social capacities such as civic responsibility, community engagement, and future employment.


This article was originally published in Critical Questions in Education, vol. 10, no. 3, 2019 - https://academyforeducationalstudies.org/journals/journal/current-and-past-issues/volume-10-issue-3/