Professor opposed to 'White supremacist' grading standards speaks at 'Antiracist Teaching' conference

A professor who believes that grading systems are rooted in racism will be a keynote speaker at the conference.

The conference will be hosted by Oregon State University, which is in the state that recently dropped proficiency requirements for high school graduation.

Oregon State University is hosting an antiracism conference this semester that will feature a professor who claims that all grading and assessment exist within systems that uphold singular, dominant standards that are racist, and White supremacist when used uniformly.” 

Asao Inoue, an Arizona State University professor who teaches first-year writing courses and works as associate dean for Academic Affairs, Equity, and Inclusion, will be a keynote speaker at “Conference for Antiracist Teaching, Language and Assessment.”

As Campus Reform previously reported, Inoue wrote a book entitled Labor-Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity and Inclusion in the Compassionate Writing Classroom, in which he argues for a grading system independent of students’ merit.

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“While the qualities of student writing is still at the center of the classroom and feedback, it has no bearing on the course grade,” Inoue told Campus Reform at the time. “Why take our judgments of quality out of the tabulation of course grades and progress in a course?”

“Grading, because it requires a single, dominant standard, is a racist and White supremacist practice,” he continues.

Inoue is not the only figure in academia making this argument. 

Central Michigan University education professor Matthew Johnson, for instance, recently argued in the Chronicle of Higher Education that policies such as abandoning letter grades and eliminating due dates may be beneficial in light of COVID-19.

[RELATED: ANALYSIS: Evidence disputes professor’s tips to eliminate grades, attendance, deadlines]

On attendance requirements, Johnson wrote that “linking grades to attendance was suspect prior to the pandemic and even more so now.” He continued by asking, “do your students really need to show up?”

Other keynote speakers at the Oregon State conference will deliver addresses related to Critical Race Theory and intersectionality.

For instance, OSU rhetoric and writing professor Ana Milena Ribero will talk about “the principles of CRT pedagogy so that [attendees] too can implement them in their teaching.” 

Alexandria Lockett, an assistant professor of English at Spelman College, will speak about “Wikipedia Editing for Knowledge Equity.”

In July, Oregon Governor Kate Brown passed a bill that would allow high school seniors without basic proficiency in math or reading to graduate.

[RELATED: Oregon students can now graduate high school without being able to read or do math]

The legislation states that “a student may not be required to show proficiency in Essential Learning Skills as a condition of receiving a high school diploma” through the next three school years. 

Campus Reform reached out to Oregon State University and all of the speakers referenced for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.