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College writing seminar will tell profs to not grade based on quality of writing in order to fight 'white language supremacy'

'Labor-based grading contracts' will be discussed

Image source: YouTube screenshot

American University in Washington, D.C., is sponsoring a multisession seminar next month aimed at getting faculty to battle against "white language supremacy" and consider "alternative" grading standards for students' writing — such as "labor-based grading contracts."

What are the details?

"Grading Ain't Just Grading: Rethinking Writing Assessment Ecologies Towards [sic] Antiracist Ends" is scheduled for Feb. 1 and will be led by Asao B. Inoue, a professor from the University of Washington, Tacoma.

The seminar's main session — "The Language Standards That Kill Our Students: Grading Ain't Just Grading" — argues against "conventional standards in college courses that grade student writing by single standards." Inoue will discuss how "white language supremacy is perpetuated in college classrooms despite the better intentions of faculty, particularly through the practices of grading writing."

Three additional sessions will follow in succession:

  • Creating Anitracist Writing Assessment Ecologies in Writing Courses
  • Rethinking Standards of Writing Intensive Course Rubrics
  • Problem-Posing the Nature of Judgement [sic] in Writing Intensive Courses

The second-to-last session will look at "redesigning writing courses' assessment ecologies in ways that reduce the negative effects of a single standard of writing" and "offer an alternative to such grading practices, labor-based grading contracts," and other ideas.

The final session will include an activity that can be used with students that shows "how judgements [sic] are formed and how those judgements [sic] use a set of white racial habits of language, no matter who the reader is."

Inoue is a professor of interdisciplinary arts and sciences and director of university writing and UW's Writing Center.

More about him from the College Fix:

Inoue's publications on writing assessments suggest that he sees subconscious racism in standards, due to white students consistently outperforming black and Latino students.

"We must rethink how we assess writing, if we want to address the racism," Inoue wrote in his 2015 book "Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future."

In another paper, "A Grade-less Writing Course that Focuses on Labor and Assessing," Inoue argues that writing teachers should "calculate course grades by labor completed and dispense almost completely with judgements [sic] of quality when producing course grades."

The College Fix said Inoue declined interview requests before and after Christmas, citing the holidays. American University also didn't respond to requests for comment on the seminar, the outlet added.

What did a national scholarly organization have to say?

A spokesman for the National Association of Scholars told the College Fix that Inoue's practices are "destroying the very idea that composition classes should teach all students to write well."

Chance Layton added to the outlet that Inoue is "substituting social justice ideologues' bigotry for instruction in composition":

The national dominance of social justice educators such as Prof. Inoue indoctrinates college graduates nationwide into social justice ideology and bigotry–but fails to teach them how to write a coherent sentence.

Layton also told the College Fix that Inoue is "not an outlier," that he "represents the mainstream of America's college writing programs and the mainstream of social justice education, which has taken over much of higher education," and that Inoue and his like-minded colleagues "are the new normal" in American higher education — a system that "requires root and branch reform."

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