Book Review: Hacking Assessment

Why I Picked Up This Book: 

It is only my third year teaching and being fresh out of a credential program and having two-years of BTSA/Induction you would think that I would be relatively confident in my grading methods. When I taught at a Middle School I thought the issue with grades was "the system" and not me. Students would move onto the next year even if they failed and I thought this was the problem that made grades seem so irrelevant in my classroom.

Then I moved to a high school and I truly wanted to believe that things would be different because students now had real consequence if they failed but I found the same issues and concerns in my high school classrooms and it got me thinking about the purpose of grades and how they can best serve our students.

It is a hard conversation to have, and a hard one to inspire in others because grading is such a personal part of how a teacher runs their classroom. So I was incredibly grateful when a colleague of mine casually mentioned he was considering going grade-less and that Hacking Assessment by Starr Sackstein was one of the first resources he had turned too.

The Review: 

This is my first book from the Hack Learning series and I loved it. It is written by a teacher for teachers and does an excellent job of explaining the reasoning behind the concept without weighing you down with research and data. It does tell you where you can find that research and data (which has led to three more books on my To-Read list) but the focus of this book is on the practical: what is the problem, what is the solution, and how to realistically implement that solution.

I will admit, I am not 100% sold on going grade-less in my classroom yet. But the book does an excellent job of explaining the benefits and giving concrete examples of how to make it work in your class. Even if you do not plan to go grade-less it is worth a read. The main takeaway for me was how I give students feedback in my classroom and how I help my students become reflective learners. Sackstein gives compelling reasons on why these practices are so important and then clearly lays out how you can make changes in your class that allow you to focus more on these practices.

"It's important to remember that school is about our students, not us, so the more we can empower them to be in control of their learning, the better." - Starr Sackstein 

Overall, I highly recommend this read. It is a quick read and even if you do not believe in going grade-less it will get you thinking about your grading practices in a constructive way. It gives insight on how to realistically implement more student centered practices, regardless of going grade-less or not.

Have you read it? Share your thoughts on this book in the comments! 
---Mrs. Byars 


  1. Have you tried anything out yet? Thank you for reading the book and sharing your thoughts. Grading in our country is killing learning and we have a responsibilty and opportunity to change the narrative!

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