344. Failing Our Future

The traditional grading system that we are all used to is of relatively recent historical origin. In this episode, Josh Eyler joins us to discuss research on problems associated with traditional grading systems and possible solutions at different scales and in different educational contexts.

Josh is the Director of Faculty Development, the Director of the ThinkForward Quality Enhancement Plan, and a faculty member in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories behind Effective Teaching and a forthcoming  book, Failing Our Future: How Grades Harm Students, and What We Can Do About It.

Show Notes

  • Eyler, Joshua R. (2024, forthcoming). Failing Our FutureL: How Grades Harm Students, and What We Can Do about It. John Hopkins University Press (pre-order link)
  • Eyler, J. R. (2018). How humans learn: The science and stories behind effective college teaching. West Virginia University Press.
  • Brookhart, S. M., Guskey, T. R., Bowers, A. J., McMillan, J. H., Smith, J. K., Smith, L. F., … & Welsh, M. E. (2016). A century of grading research: Meaning and value in the most common educational measure. Review of educational research, 86(4), 803-848.


John: The traditional grading system that we are all used to is of relatively recent historical origin. In this episode, we explore research on problems associated with traditional grading systems and possible solutions at different scales and in different educational contexts.


John: Thanks for joining us for Tea for Teaching, an informal discussion of innovative and effective practices in teaching and learning.

Rebecca: This podcast series is hosted by John Kane, an economist…

John: …and Rebecca Mushtare, a graphic designer…

Rebecca: …and features guests doing important research and advocacy work to make higher education more inclusive and supportive of all learners.


Rebecca: Our guest today is Josh Eyler. Josh is the Director of Faculty Development, the Director of the ThinkForward Quality Enhancement Plan, and a faculty member in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories behind Effective Teaching and a forthcoming book, Failing Our Future: How Grades Harm Students, and What We Can Do About It. Welcome back, Josh.

Josh: Thank you. Thank you. Great to be here.

John: We’re happy to talk to you. And it’s been a while. Today’s teas are:… Josh, are you drinking tea with us today?

Josh: Well, you know how I roll, you guys, I don’t have tea, but I have some lovely water. [LAUGHTER]

Rebecca: So tasty. I have a Scottish afternoon today.

John: And I’m trying to cut back on caffeine, so I just have a peppermint tea today.

Rebecca: Well, if you wanted to cut back on caffeine, you could join Josh with water. [LAUGHTER]

Josh: That’s true. [LAUGHTER] Come join the club, John. [LAUGHTER]

John: I suppose that probably would not be an unhealthy thing to do. [LAUGHTER] And I have been drinking a lot more water recently.

Rebecca: So, we invited you here today to discuss Failing our Future. Could you tell us a little bit about how this book project came about?

Josh: Sure. Yes. So it has a couple of origin stories, actually. One is that when I was writing How Humans Learn a few years ago, I was working on the final chapter on failure. And I kept coming across research on grades and grading and the obstacles that they set up to learning. And certainly if you’re thinking about failure as a tool for learning, you immediately are confronted with the fact that in systems that prioritize grades, they push back on the natural cycle of learning, where we try something, we fail, we get feedback, we try it again. Grades are set up in the opposite direction, they arrest that process before it can really play out. And so that is what piqued my interest. And I don’t know that I could say honestly that I thought I was going to write a book about grades at that point. But I knew that it was an important element of what I was discussing. So I’d say a few years after that, I think what we were seeing was a lot of discussion about grades, a lot more experimentation with it. That led me to want to write a book for a broader audience, one that certainly included educators, but one that cut across the K-12, higher ed divide one that was also for parents and policymakers and students, one that really took a bird’s eye view of the larger conversation about grades, trying to pull all of what we know together so that we could move forward as a community to try and enact change. So that’s what got us here. And the process was certainly longer than I expected due to the pandemic, but it was also just a very illuminating process. And I heard some heartbreaking stories as I did interviews for this. But overall, I’m really proud of the work.

John: And you mentioned addressing this through the entire educational spectrum. And I think it’s important to address it through the whole system. Because by the time we see students in college, they’ve already been indoctrinated into a system of grades, and there’s a lot of resistance to change, and also a lot of damage, perhaps, may have been done by the use of grading systems early. Could you talk a little bit about how we ended up with this system of grading, which has been so much a part of the educational culture from kindergarten on up?

Josh: Sure, yeah. And you’re right about the fact that students are conditioned for at least 12 years before they get to us to think about grades as being the most important thing about education. So how did we end up here, we could have a podcast episode that would last five hours if we really wanted to dig into that. But I’ll focus really on the more recent history. And that is that the A through F letter grade scale that we have is really about 125 years old. Our first records of a full letter grading scale come from Mount Holyoke in the 1890s. So they were the first to implement it. Back then it was A through E. They later dropped the E because they were afraid that people would think that they were excellent when they were not, you know, God forbid that we allow people to think that they’re excellent. And so they dropped the E and added a letter where there could be no mistake about what it meant, and that was an F, for failure. So that’s when it began. But that system, the letter grade system, was not formalized, or standardized, really until the 1940s. That is when you see a majority, in fact, of school districts and colleges and universities adopt that system. And what I think is most important about that, actually two things. One is that none of this has ever been inevitable, that the 1940s is less than 100 years ago, so this is not something that was cast in stone at the minute the American educational system began; it has changed and can be changed. The second thing, though, is that all of these schools, districts, all of these colleges adopted that system, not because they thought it was the best way to document student learning, but simply because it was the easiest way to communicate across institutions. They felt that if they had a common system that they could communicate more effectively between themselves. So it was not about student learning. It was not about student progress or growth or development. It was simply about communicating. That’s how we got here. And now we’re trying to figure out where do we go next? How do we undo some of the damage that has happened since that time?

Rebecca: Speaking of damage, do you want to underscore what some of that damage is? [LAUGHTER]

Josh: Sure, and I know that there’s room for reasonable debate about the terms that we use here. But I honestly really do think we can use the framing of damage and harm when it comes to grades. And in the book, I have several categories. The first and most obvious category for that damage has to do with learning, that grades set up obstacles to learning. They inhibit curiosity, they inhibit creativity, they inhibit risk taking, they affect intrinsic motivation. This is painfully obvious, but grades are classic extrinsic motivators, which means that they are very good for getting people to do things that they would not otherwise want to do. Extrinsic motivators operate effectively, if your goal is compliance, you want to get people in seats, you want to get people to turn things in on time, you want to get people to say things in class, grades work for that. But if what you’re interested in is learning and quality, that’s what you need intrinsic motivation for. The grades can get people into learning spaces, but they in no way ever guarantee that a student will learn even though they are actually in the environment. So that’s really important. Environments that prioritize grades also incentivize cheating, and they just stand in the way of a lot of different things. But that’s just the academic part of it. Obviously, those are important, but to me, they’re less important than some of the effects of grades on students’ lives and wellbeing. Grades magnify and mirror inequities that have always been a part of the American educational system. For example, students who attend poorly resourced high schools have fewer educational opportunities, fewer textbooks, more teacher turnover, all the things that are tied to less-resourced schools. And what that means often when they get to college, they have experienced what we call opportunity gaps, which show up in their grades, especially in Gen Ed courses. So those grades that you see in the first couple of years of a student’s college experience, one who has experienced opportunity gaps, those are reflections of the past, they’re not indications of the student’s potential. They are indicators of systemic inequity. So that’s just one of many examples that we could rifle through. Grades are surveillance technologies. They’re often used for punishment, especially in high school, but kind of across the board. So that’s another category. inequities. And then the final one, the one that we’re getting more and more research on now, maybe than we’ve had in the past, and one that I personally care a lot about is that we have evidence now that grades are a contributing factor to the mental health crisis in teenagers and young adults, the academic stress caused by grades. We have a number of research studies pointing us toward the significant contribution of grades to that mental health crisis. So lots of areas here, I think, beyond the classroom. And that’s really our central idea of this book that grades have long afterlives, well beyond a semester, well beyond the classroom, that affect people’s lives, sometimes just in the short term, but often in the longer term as well.

Rebecca: Josh, you went from going from grades are no fun to grades are a super downer. [LAUGHTER]

Josh: Yeah, well, that’s the message. It’s a happy book, Rebecca. [LAUGHTER] It’s not going to win any awards for a happy smiley story, that’s for sure. [LAUGHTER]

John: One concern that some faculty have about moving to alternative grading systems is that, while intrinsic motivation is something we’d all really love to see in our students, there may be some tasks in our disciplines that students have to master which may not be as intrinsically rewarding as others, but they might still be foundational for students to be successful. If we move away from grading systems, what type of motivation can be provided to help students master those tasks that may seem tedious and may not be quite as intrinsically rewarding as other areas that students just find much more interesting?

Josh: Well, that’s a great question. There are a couple of things I’d like to address about this. So first of all, it’s not that we’re talking about either having traditional grades or having no grades, and nothing in between. What a lot of people are doing in the area of alternative grading practices is experimenting with a whole range of models. And so particularly for the types of courses and disciplines that you’re talking about in that question, John, I have found that many faculty gravitate toward a model called standards-based grading, where you can identify the skills, the content knowledge, the disciplinary norms and necessities that are important for students to develop. And the grade for the course is based, not on individual performance on exams, but how many standards they meet, over the course of the semester. And as a feature of that particular model, often students are given multiple attempts and multiple ways to meet the standards. So that’s part of releasing the pressure valve a little bit for students that gives them room to grow and honors the fact that individuals learn at different paces. So it doesn’t matter when in the semester that they hit the number of standards in order to get their A or B, because the process is a fundamental part of that grading model. So I think that’s really important. Another thing that often comes up in these conversations, though, is the fact that we do in fact, have gradeless colleges in America. The one I feature in the book is Evergreen State College in Washington. And they don’t have any grades at all. They have fully narrative transcripts. They give only feedback over the course of the semester. And they teach all the disciplines. So they have found ways to heighten the intrinsic motivation, and to use feedback to really help students navigate the path toward the goals that they have for themselves and for the class. So there are ways to do this. You don’t need grades to keep people in the seats or to have them do things that might draw on less intrinsic motivation. I think there are ways to structure our learning environments that allow us to do similar work without the pressure of traditional grades. And I think that’s the ultimate point here. I think what a lot of folks in this area who are interested in grading reform are trying to promote is not necessarily just ditching grades outright, although we could talk about that if you want, but reorienting students relationship with grades, the messages that grades send to students, so that it’s not necessarily an evaluation, but a tool helping them develop their skills and to push their learning forward.

Rebecca: It’s always been interesting to me that the A through F system was meant to provide some standardized ways of communicating between institutions yet, if you look at any single institutions’ body of syllabi, you can see that the grades mean entirely different things [LAUGHTER] depending on a class, like some might be about attendance, some might be about success on a test, some might be about achieving learning objectives. So it seems like if it was meant to communicate anything [LAUGHTER] across institutions, it certainly isn’t meeting that objective. I don’t know what my question is. [LAUGHTER]

Josh: I’m so glad this up, though.

Rebecca: I had a question, but I think I lost it. [LAUGHTER]

Josh: No, I’ll answer it. There’s a question in there, Rebecca.

Rebecca: Thanks for helping.

Josh: What you’re talking about there is what I call the measurement fallacy. And so there has been more and more work over the last few years, including one that I absolutely love, called A Century of Grading Research, where a team of experts dives into a massive amount of material. And the conclusion that they come up with is that a grade is nothing more than a subjective indicator by an individual instructor on a student’s progress toward that individual’s goals for a particular course. So I set the goals for my course, a grade that I would give is nothing more than an indicator of how much progress a student has made on my goals for my course. They call them learning intentions in this paper. It is not in any way, a kind of universal certification of learning in a particular course or discipline. Nor does it mean that the student who gets a certain grade in my course would get the same grade from my colleague down the hall teaching the same course. It is a truly subjective indicator of progress. And because of that, we cannot really say that grades measure what we have been told that they measure and what our educational systems have assumed that they measure, which is learning. They’re not universal measurements of learning, they’re subjective indicators of progress in the course.

Rebecca: And yet they’re used to make all kinds of decisions about students.

Josh: They are, and you’re absolutely right.

Rebecca: It’s very interesting. [LAUGHTER]

Josh: So I think there has been a lot of ill placed weight on grades without a subsequent amount of investigation into what grades have meant, and continue to mean. This is also what fuels the furor over supposed grade inflation. And there are lots of other tendrils of problems, when you begin to put so much emphasis on grades to do so much work in our educational system.

John: You mentioned Evergreen State College, but another college that had gone in that direction, very successfully was New College, and I teach in a program at Duke in the summer, and I had two TAs from New College, and they were two of the brightest people I had ever worked with, and their mastery of the subject matter was very much equivalent to that of other students I had who came from institutions with very traditional grading systems. So they certainly didn’t seem to be damaged by that. And yet, there seemed to have been a bit of a hostile takeover of New College. [LAUGHTER]

Josh: Yes, there has been but there is not evidence yet that the hostile takeover has affected that gradeless model. There was some discussion that I read in transcripts of board meetings about that grading system, but it has not changed yet. And I’m glad you brought up New College, John, because, and they have this on their website, as recently as last year, they were able to boast that they were producing students who went on to get the highest percentage of STEM PhDs in the country, relative to their size as an institution, which says a lot. If you are a gradeless institution, and your students are succeeding at that rate in STEM PhDs, it means that they’re learning not just content, but also the skills that are necessary to do that level of advanced work. So I think that that says a lot for what is possible, even within systems that do not have anything close to a traditional grading system.

John: And I should note that one of those students did go on to a PhD in economics. And the other student went on and picked up a master’s degree in data analytics. And they’ve succeeded very nicely, despite the absence of grades [LAUGHTER] in their college career. [LAUGHTER]

Josh: Imagine that.

John: When we began this discussion, one of the things you noted was that under traditional grading systems, the grades at the end of courses often reflect differences in the opportunities that students face before they enter our classes. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Josh: Absolutely. So you have the reinforcing of those gaps, you have extensions of those gaps. So if you think about what happens to a student who comes into a college course with those opportunity gaps, and then is in a system, for example, where grades are curved, so not only then are they trying to bridge over those equity gaps, but their grades are really reflective of those gaps. But now they are also competing in a curved grade system with their other fellow students, many of whom have had more practice at the kinds of exams and the kinds of questions and the kinds of teaching strategies that they’ll see in those courses. So it just starts to pile on top of each other. And I think that this is something that we just don’t talk enough about, it’s just assumed, and many of these students are labeled unprepared or not ready for college, which places all the burden on them rather than this more systemic problem that I think we really need to face. Because we don’t talk enough about it, we assume that grades have to be a part of the landscape of education. And because of that, we, and I say we as the community in education, we’ve just been willing to tolerate all of the issues that grades have brought with them without really pulling back the curtain and looking at what the issues really are.

John: And we lose so many students in the first couple of years of college and many of the students we lose are those who come from low-income school districts, whose parents had less education, and who just come in with less preparation. And that’s not a very equitable way of providing an education.

Josh: Right, absolutely. And so this shows up on all kinds of metrics that colleges care about: retention, progress, graduation, all of which, by the way, are tied to grades and GPAs. That grades are the gatekeepers for keeping those students enrolled and moving through to graduation. So yes, that’s a major problem to address with respect to those students who are coming to us with fewer opportunities and from school districts with fewer resources. I think we need to really investigate the traditional ways of being In higher education, really look closely at them, reimagine them in order to create systems that have equity at the center and where we are actually, I think, invested in student success and helping those students from those different backgrounds to succeed.

Rebecca: I think the other thing to underscore related to equity issues is not only does an institution maybe have policies about grades and decisions are made at an institutional level, but at the federal level grades are used for financial aid. And so if you don’t hit a certain grade point average, and if you don’t have a certain number of classes that you complete successfully, so you’re not withdrawing from them, or having incompletes, etc, then you might not be eligible, you could lose financial aid. So whether or not a student has demonstrated growth in any kind of way doesn’t matter. It’s down to this idea of grades. And depending on the classes they’re enrolled in and the different things that grades mean, we’re essentially not allowing students to proceed because they can’t afford to.

Josh: That’s absolutely right. The more you really take the magnifying glass to this, the more you see how implanted grades are in all of these decisions, and all these key points in a student’s academic career, bringing in financial aid, I think, is a wonderful example of their gatekeeping function. And the idea that you’re raising there, that it doesn’t even give students a chance to try and bridge those equity gaps. It doesn’t honor their growth or development at all, it says you got less than a C average in your first year, therefore, we are not giving you any more money to move through the university, and so many leave, many dropout. And I think that there is a better way to do things.

John: And many of those students who leave end up with a fairly significant burden of student debt that they still have to pay, further increasing the inequity. What types of alternative grading systems do you discuss in your book, you mentioned standards based grading, but what are some of the other areas that you encourage faculty to consider?

Josh: Well, the book is divided into two parts. And the first half is all the problems and the second half is possible solutions. And so there’s a chapter for parents on what you can do in the home to help your children reorient their own approach to grades. And then the last chapter is about systemic change. But the one in between that is focused on what teachers in K-12 and faculty in higher ed are doing in their own individual classrooms to help with this. And so, there’s a whole range. There are the models that are related to standards-based grading, I call them the cousins: they’re standards-based grading, specifications grading, competency-based, mastery-based, proficiency-based, they’re all not very different from each other, they just have slightly different names, and maybe a few modestly different features to them. So that’s one bucket. Portfolio grading is one that I recommend for folks who just want to dip their toe in the world of alternative grading, because a portfolio model, you’re giving a lot of feedback throughout the semester, a lot of opportunity to revise and redo assignments. But ultimately, the portfolio that is turned in at the end of the semester gets a fairly traditional grade associated with it, it’s just that that grade honors the whole arc of the work for the semester. So that’s another one. Contract grading, and its various branches that we have recently seen. So classic contract model was developed in the middle of the 20th century. And it looks something like this: here’s a list of things to do for the course, if you do 15 of them at a satisfactory level… I’m just making up that number…if you do 15 at a satisfactory level, you get an A for the course, you do 12 you get a B, etc. That’s a contract model. More recently, there’s been a version of it called labor-based contract grading,…very prominent in writing studies… that tweaks it a little bit to emphasize more the amount of work, the amount of writing that students do over the course of the semester, and that is tied to fulfilling the particular contract. And then if we’re looking at a spectrum of grading models, with portfolio grading being one of the more conservative of the alternatives, on the other end of the spectrum you have what some people call ungrading and other people call collaborative grading where there are no grades throughout the semester, only feedback, lots of student self assessment, self evaluation, and then at the end of the semester, the students proposed their grade and the final grade is determined through a conference between the instructor and the student about that proposed grade. So there are lots of things that people are trying. I tried to send two messages about this, one is that my goal is hopefully to help faculty find models that will work best for them and their students, that it’s not a one-size-fits-all model. The same thing that works for me may not work for my colleague in the next classroom over. So that’s important. The other thing is that you do not need absolute fidelity to any one of these models. It’s not like Moses came down from the mountain, with tablets that you had to follow to the letter, lots of people are mixing and matching and taking elements from a host of different systems that they find works for them. So I’ve yet to find someone marching down the checklist for engraving or for contract grading, everyone’s kind of putting their own spin on it, and that’s good. Well, it’s actually not only good, it’s important since our contexts vary so significantly across higher ed.

Rebecca: As a lot of faculty start considering these different alternative models, collectively we can start to initiate culture change, kind of with a grassroots model. But systemic change requires policy change and other things as well. Can you talk a little bit about what role we might have in pushing forward some of those agendas as well?

Josh: Like I mentioned before, a major reason for writing this book was because my observation was that a lot of people are talking about grading reform, but they’re all coming at it, understandably, from their own perspective, the faculty perspective, the administrative perspective, the policymaker perspective, and the parent’s perspective. And I think that if we’re thinking seriously about systemic change, we need to have everyone on the same page collaborating to move change forward. All that is to say that I think about this question quite a lot. There’s certainly examples that we have of recent systemic change, some of the University of California schools have changed their grading systems in significant ways. Western Oregon just dropped the lowest grades on the scale, they’re no longer available to give. I just met someone a couple of weeks ago from Bryant University, they’re moving to collaborative grading at scale for their first-year seminar courses. So it is happening, what it requires is a network of people across an institution, all of whom believe that this is not only the right thing, but they understand how to use policy to make the reform happen, but also how to tell the story in a way that all the different constituencies can see themselves in it, and can agree that this is the direction that they need to head. So the networking is important, understanding how policy shapes grading habits and processes at a university. If you’re part of a public system, which I know you and I both are, you need to understand how the system policy and the state policy plays into this as well. So that requires having that network of different people at different positions in a university to really move that work forward. But what I really want folks to know is that you’re not alone in this, that there are lots of people thinking about this, and lots of people who are doing this work, sometimes under the radar, sometimes above the radar at institutions, and that one person taking a step is a step toward change. But multiple people taking the same step together begins to create a movement toward change. And so I want people to know that. I also want people to know that there are blueprints out there for how to do this work, that there are people who study grading reform, there are models out there for successful institutional reform. Given my work for the book, I think we have a lot to learn from K-12 school districts. There are so many of those each year that are transitioning to standards-based grading across the district. Last year, for example, the entire city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, all their school districts moved to standards-based grading. So this is happening. And the more we learn about process, the more we draw on our colleagues’ network and expertise in these areas, the more we work kind of as a collective in higher ed to push this forward, the more change you’re going to see.

John: We give a lot of workshops on campus and some of them are focused on alternative grading systems. We haven’t seen quite as much movement with that among faculty as I thought we perhaps might, because during the pandemic, a lot of people were open to trying some very different things. But there’s been some resistance. We’ve had a number of people trying it, but it hasn’t caught on quite as much as I had expected it to. Why are so many faculty resistant to moving away from traditional grading systems?

Josh: Well,I think this varies from place to place. But I will say that I think that a major thing that we all face as faculty is the pressures of time. Everyone wants to do their best for their students, I really do believe that, but when you’re faced with such a limited amount of time in which you can change elements of your course, you’re probably going to gravitate immediately toward the kinds of content that you’re teaching in the course in the assignments, the course design pieces of it, or you’re going to think about active learning strategy that John and Rebecca talked about a few months ago, rather than addressing the thing that is at the very foundation of our educational systems in America. That’s not going to be the place that you go first, [LAUGHTER] kind of an upheaval of everything that you have known about education. So I think some of it is just, in a system where we all have very limited time, and very few resources, where do you put your efforts, and I think that is driving some of that. I also think we’re kind of seeing this interesting bounce back that followed that period of innovation at the beginning of the pandemic. I think what you see is almost a defensive response to that period of innovation, that what we really need to do to bring students back and re-engage them in the coursework is to try and somehow recapture what our image was a traditional education pre-2020, that we need to move backward toward that rather than capitalize and extend the innovations that we were doing in the early stages of the pandemic. I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush on that, but I have seen some of that elasticity, that rubberband effect, in talking with folks across the country about some of these issues. So I think those two things are at the forefront of why some folks might resist that. And none of those really has to do yet with really trying to unpack people’s own philosophies of education, or how their grades and their grading models tie into their values that they have with respect to education. So that’s even kind of a deeper level that you can’t even get to until you address some of these other concerns.

Rebecca: And when we’re crunched on time, things that we’ve done before are easier to implement. And it’s also hard to find time to reflect on our practices and to do some of the things that you’re talking about, in thinking about how our values align with what we’re doing. We’re really good as institutions of talking about equity, but we don’t always fully analyze how our practices impact actual equity.

John: And we were all the products of a graded system. And we were somehow successful in that, or we wouldn’t be in these positions. And so I think there may be a little bit of psychological resistance to changing something that has been so fundamental to our own experience.

Josh: Yes. I think a huge capital Y-E-S [LAUGHTER] to both of what you’re saying, that Rebecca, your point, we are not very good at really interrogating how our practices may or may not be aiding our equity goals or advancing our equity goals. And John, yes, we have succeeded in graded systems. And I do think the psychological is a part of it. If we were able to do it, why shouldn’t other people be able to manage this? I think that is what some people think. And more than that, I often see a kind of defensive fallback. Part of this is natural, in that we love our disciplines and devoted our lives to our disciplines, but a fallback toward if I get rid of grades or if I change my grading system, what does that mean for the standards of my discipline, for how people will engage with my discipline? And so I think that’s a psychological element of this as well. And it comes out in arguments about rigor and standards, but what it’s really about is the individual psychology, I think, of the person making the argument.

John: Are there other topics from your book that you’d like to discuss that we haven’t?

Josh: I think the reform efforts that I have seen succeed, and those that have failed, always have hinged on communication, at every level. Why are we doing this? What is the purpose of it? How do we bring people into the process very early on at all levels. At the K-12. level, that means parents, teachers and administrators working together. I think at higher ed, it means utilizing the expertise of faculty right out of the gate, allowing them to shape the narrative and the conversation and the direction and draw on administrative and staff resources to help enact that vision, rather than having a top-down mandate that you had to change your grading. That’s never gonna work in higher ed. But I will say that the communication is what drives all of that work. And it is the hinge that either allows one of these efforts to succeed or fail.

Rebecca: Well, we have a lot to think about, but what’s next, Josh?

Josh: So, what’s next? Well, the book comes out at the end of August and so I’m really excited to launch that and to finally have it in people’s hands and have lots of conversations about what’s in there, hopefully, So, that’s what’s immediately next. I am thinking about the next project that has something to do with the students who are coming to college now are the students who their entire K-12 experience has been shaped by the Common Core, and the obsession with standardization in America, and so what does that mean for higher ed? And what does that mean for those students and their learning? So, I’m in the very early stages of trying to think about that a little bit, but that might be what the next project is.

Rebecca: You always have great projects, Josh, and get us thinking about really important topics. So thanks for your work. I’m looking forward to sharing your new book.

Josh: Well, thank you both very much. It’s always a pleasure to be on this podcast, one of my favorites, and I’d love talking to you both about all these issues, so hanks very much.

John: It’s great talking to you again, and I’m looking forward to receiving my copy of this book in the summer. I ordered it as soon as I saw the notification that pre-orders were available.

Josh: I appreciate that, John, thank you.


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Rebecca: You can find show notes, transcripts and other materials on teaforteaching.com. Music by Michael Gary Brewer.