Fair Isn't Always Equal, 2nd Edition

Assessment and Grading in the Differentiated Classroom

Differentiated instruction is a nice idea, but what happens when it comes to assessing and grading students? What’s both fair and leads to real student learning? An internationally recognized expert on grading practices, Rick Wormeli first examined these questions 10 years ago in the first edition of Fair Isn’t Always Equal. In this thoroughly updated second edition, Rick provides a catalyst for serious reflection on current grading and assessment practices in differentiated classrooms.

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Fair Isn’t Always Equal outlines coherent and effective standards-based grading practices for a high-stakes, accountability-focused world. Recognizing the importance of having a shared school vision for assessment and grading, Rick addresses the challenges for teachers and administrators alike.

Educators from kindergarten to high school will find real examples and gray areas of grading. Rick tackles important and sometimes controversial assessment and grading issues constructively, incorporating modern pedagogy and the challenges of working with diverse groups of students. New sections address sports eligibility, honor roll, descriptive feedback techniques, and gifted/talented students. Chapters on test questions, redos/retakes, grading scales, and grading effort and behavior have been revised extensively.

This important book clearly explains the principles behind best grading practices so that you’re ready for all grading questions or realities that you may encounter in your classrooms and schools.


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Reading Fair Isn’t Always Equal inspires me to be a better teacher. This is not a book to browse through over summer vacation. This is a book to work with, to take chapter by chapter and use to assess your own assessment and grading practices. This is a book to commit to, with a community of colleagues, to discuss, to debate, to share. It is a book for teachers and administrators.

Jennifer Randall



    Rick Wormeli: Fair Isn't Always Equal, Second Edition

    About the Author(s)

    One of the first National Board-Certified teachers in America, Rick brings innovation and energy to his writing and instructional practices. He has spent the past 38 years teaching math, science, English, physical education, health, and history, as well as coaching teachers and principals. Rick’s work has been reported in numerous media outlets, including “Good Morning America” and National Geographic magazine. He is a columnist for AMLE Magazine, a contributor to ASCD’s Educational Leadership, and has presented in all fifty states and around the world.

    Table of Contents




    Chapter 1 Fair to All: The Mind-Set for Differentiated Instruction

    Chapter 2 Principled Assessment and Grading

    Chapter 3 Mastery


    Chapter 4 Assessment: Begin with the End in Mind

    Chapter 5 Descriptive Feedback and Student Self-Assessment

    Chapter 6 Principles of Effective Assessment for the Differentiated Classroom

    Chapter 7 Assessment Integral to Lesson Design

    Chapter 8 Tiering Assessments

    Chapter 9 Rubrics

    Chapter 10 Creating Good Test Questions


    Chapter 11 The Relative Nature of Grades and Their Definitions

    Chapter 12 Why Do We Grade, and What About Effort, Attendance, and Behavior?

    Chapter 13 Honor Roll?

    Chapter 14 It's Time to Stop Averaging

    Chapter 15 Ten Grading Practices to Avoid

    Chapter 16 Redos and Retakes

    Chapter 17 Five Burning Grading Issues

    Chapter 18 Grading Scales

    Chapter 19 Gradebooks and Report Cards

    Chapter 20 Putting It All Together: How Do Differentiating Teachers Assess and Grade Differently?