How to Reduce Racial Bias in Grading (Use Objective Rubrics)

To gauge the potential impact of a standardized rubric on grading bias, I conducted an experiment comparing how teachers graded two identical second-grade writing samples: one presented as the work of a Black student, and one as the work of a white student.

My experiment found that teachers gave the white student better marks across the board—with one exception. When teachers used a grading rubric with specific criteria, racial bias all but disappeared. When teachers evaluated student writing using a general grade-level scale, they were 4.7 percentage points more likely to consider the white child’s writing at or above grade level compared to the identical writing from a Black child. However, when teachers used a grading rubric with specific criteria, the grades were essentially the same.

CNN reports Biden’s dog was “involved in another biting incident”

CNN’s headline: “Bidens’ dog Major involved in another biting incident,” but the story quotes the first lady’s press secretary as saying, “Major nipped someone on a walk.”  So there doesn’t seem to be any need to obscure the identify of the biter. I find the uncritical use of “biting incident” a bit troubling. The phrase “officer-involved shooting” is popular with bad apple cops who wish to conceal their violent actions.…

Sperm whales in 19th century shared ship attack information

From whaling and sealing stations to missionary bases, western culture was imported to an ocean that had remained largely untouched. As Herman Melville, himself a whaler in the Pacific in 1841, would write in Moby-Dick (1851): “The moot point is, whether Leviathan can long endure so wide a chase, and so remorseless a havoc.” Sperm whales are highly socialised animals, able to communicate over great distances. They associate in clans defined by the…

Partisan Pa. websites masquerading as local news threaten trust in journalism, new report finds

People with financial interests to protect and political axes to grind are funding websites that resemble local news outlets, with the express purpose of manipulating the attitudes of the general public. Journalists are far from perfect, and no human being is truly unbiased; however, there’s a big difference between responsible journalism that leans left or right, and partisan propaganda that’s camouflaged to resemble a neutral account of the facts. It’s…

Dan Rather reflects critically on the so-called “Heroic Age” of TV news

CBS’s Dan Rather infamously dismissed bloggers who pointed out flaws in a “60 Minutes II” story on documents purporting to address George W. Bush’s service in the National Guard. (See “False Documentation? Questions Arise About Authenticity of Newly Found Memos on Bush’s Guard Service.”) Rather eventually apologized and announced his retirement after 24 years at the anchor desk. The recent death of Larry King (CNN) and Roger Mudd  (CBS, PBS,…

For years, I’ve tried to work my way back into the middle class

Well-meaning people tried to encourage me by pointing out how far I had come. “You’re working!” they said, “You’re housed!” And the declaration I found most diminishing: “I’m so proud of you!” I was 52 and I did not mark my progress by those measurements. Rather, I marked my progress by how far I had fallen. What did it mean that I was earning enough to rent a room in…