Resolutions 2020

Resolution for Equitable Grading Practices

BACKGROUND: Grading is a difficult and personal matter for educators to discuss because rather than using grades to reflect mastery only, educators have become accustomed to incorporating the participation and effort of students (a.k.a. socio-emotional skills, currently recognized as soft skills), and to averaging grades throughout a semester. These practices can often fail to accurately reflect a student’s learned knowledge and skills. Recent research, such as Grading for Equity (Feldman), What We Know about Grading (Guskey & Brookhart),  Making Grades Matter (Townsley & Weir), and Grading Exceptional & Struggling Learners (Jung & Guskey), has shed light upon the necessity to reform outdated and ill-informed grading practices that often hinder, and even harm, student learning. 

WHEREAS, zeros in grading often facilitate and allow for learned helplessness and conflate non-scores or missing work with lack of ability. This practice can skew the accuracy of reported grades in regards to mastery of a knowledge-based skill. This, alongside giving extra credit and penalizing late work within a traditional grading scale (0-100), can orient students towards failure, and can unfairly grade the process of learning (formative assessment) instead of summative assessment; and 

WHEREAS, grading effort and participation can create vulnerability for teacher bias and often fails to account for environmental and behavioral factors beyond the student’s control, or can blur the line between assessing knowledge/skill and responding to behavior; and

WHEREAS, grading should encourage risk-taking in practice and learning, and motivate students from the perspective of growth mindset, as well as, transparently and clearly be aligned to state standards/learning targets; and

WHEREAS formative feedback should be a tool for student learning, and grades can often demotivate students when provided alongside feedback (Miller).

WHEREAS, as California Ed code 49066 protects educators’ professional ability to give accurate grades that another stakeholder does not have the power to change but does not protect students from teacher biased behavior-based grading.

BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED, CATE recommends educators examine grading practices at the district, school, and departmental levels; and incorporate current research in order to better collaborate and pursue equitable grading practices that strive towards being accurate, bias-resistant, and motivational to students. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, CATE recommends, in evaluating, discussing, and pursuing grading reform, educators seek to gain awareness and avoid inaccurate grading practices which highlight the unfair inclusion of environmental and behavioral factors relating to students’ soft skills. Considering that these soft skills (e.g. effort, time management, goal setting, perseverance, self-regulation, etc.) are better cultivated through the restorative practices of social and emotional learning instruction, differentiating that citizenship and behavior is clearly separate from an academic and scholarship based grades; and finally

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,  CATE strongly recommends educators should pursue a research-based, transparent, grading approach that encourages and motivates students to take risks and practice in the learning process without fear of penalty.  Therefore, grades will reflect student growth and mastery of knowledge and skill within the content area.


Resolution: Climate Action and Sustainability


WHEREAS, 97 percent of publishing climate scientists along with organizations including the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Association for the Advancement of Science, National Academy of Sciences, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change affirm that anthropogenic climate change is driving dire consequences for our planet; and


WHEREAS, the impact of climate change will be felt most keenly by our students who are at a greater risk of climate-related health consequences than any generation before them; and


WHEREAS, understanding climate change challenges the imagination, and addressing climate change demands all the tools of language and communication, including the ability to tell compelling stories about the people and conflicts at the heart of this global discussion; and


WHEREAS, literature, both fiction and nonfiction, teaches us how the world is, was, or could be, it follows that literature is a useful tool to imagine ways of coping with, and mitigating the impacts of climate change; and


WHEREAS, students need to explore images, texts, ideas, perspectives, and issues; and take action individually, locally, nationally, and globally. It is in the nature of the English Language Arts classroom for teachers to guide students in investigating texts and climate truths in both fiction and nonfiction.


BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that CATE support ELA teachers in implementing a curriculum that promotes discourse about the climate crisis in both fiction and nonfiction; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CATE members encourage students to take an interest in and explore the realities of climate change and use their voices inside and outside the classroom to promote action related to this pressing issue; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CATE teachers be encouraged to work with fellow ELA teachers, as well as teachers in other fields, to implement interdisciplinary instruction on climate change and sustainability; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CATE call upon all teachers to teach for a sustainable future and help students to prepare for that future in terms of college and career readiness as well as global survival.


Resolution on Academic Freedom for Educators 

BACKGROUND: On many occasions, educators naturally supplement and extend the curriculum with auxiliary materials or pedagogical practices to enhance understanding and knowledge of the text, using material that has been vetted, adopted, and adapted as necessary to each diverse educational environment. In this technological age of reactionary digital discourse that can easily and quickly impact an individual’s reputation, career, and future employment, it is vital to impose protections for all educational professionals who can be unfairly targeted. The faulty interpretation of these lessons, when taken out of educational context and vilified with illogical and disparaging narratives, can result in hasty public and restrictive sanctions imposed by administrators, school districts, school boards, and the community, leading to censorship of curriculum, often at the behest of non-educators promoted by media-based outrage.

Academic freedom for trained professional educators is a necessity to enhance and extend the academic discourse crucial for student success, and any restrictions on academic freedom impinge on student learning.

WHEREAS, academic freedom is necessary for students to learn and grow to their utmost? capacity and become critical thinkers prepared for global exchange; and

WHEREAS, educators are highly trained, licensed, and credentialed professionals in the classroom whose opinion, expertise, and experience should be valued; and

WHEREAS, educators are informed, trained, and updated on Culturally Responsive Teaching and can respond to the needs of the uniquely diverse classroom population, including but not limited to race, gender, sex, and students with special needs; and

WHEREAS, in many of California’s public schools, teachers face retribution when academic choices are not fully understood or are taken out of context;

BE IT, THEREFORE, RESOLVED that school, district, and state leadership support faculty members support the professionalism and academic choices of faculty members by extending academic freedom to all highly-trained, credentialed educators; 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that school, district, and state leadership should not rush to judgment and to communicate with the teachers being targeted, encouraging others to do likewise; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that school, district, and state leadership educate themselves as to the origin of the sources and the instructional intent of those aforementioned extensions and supplemental texts or academic choices, prior to making critical decisions regarding the teacher’s actions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that school, district, and state leadership grant due process to teachers who have been denied academic freedom, including the presumption that the burden of proof lies with those who bring the charges, and that educators have the right to present counter-evidence and confront their accusers, and be assisted by an attorney if they choose.

Resolution to Announce the 60th Anniversary of the First CATE Annual Business Meeting


BACKGROUND: An article in the January/February 1983 issue of California English, written by the first president of CATE, Barbara Hartsig, explained the origin of CATE, which originally formed from 11 ELA groups in California: the current 9 councils plus two now-defunct college English teacher groups from Northern and Southern California. These groups met informally in 1958 and held a convention in 1959 in San Francisco. Hartsig writes: “For the ten months following the 1959 San Francisco conference, a statewide committee was hard at work on two major tasks. The first task was to organize a conference for February 11-13, 1960, to be held at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The second task was to draft a constitution for a statewide organization of teachers of English.” She continues: “On the evening of February 12, 1960, delegates from each of the 11 regional organizations met at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, to go over the proposed constitution, article by article and section by section. Under the able leadership of Richard Worthen, president of the California Association of English Councils and presiding officer of the meeting, the group hammered away at the document that night. Soon after midnight the task was finished and the constitution adopted. CATE was established. Thus, the first CATE business meeting was held the following afternoon, on February 13, 1960.”


WHEREAS, the origin of the annual business meeting took place exactly 60 years ago this month,


BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that CATE recognize and celebrate the 60th anniversary of CATE’s first annual business meeting.


CATE 2020: Board Resolution – Commendation of the Convention Committee

ELA Confidential: Investigating Teaching, Texts, and Truths, the theme of this year’s convention reminds us that “curiosity, skepticism, and inquiry” are foundational tenets of our profession       ` and that “teaching and learning are ever exploratory”. The guest speakers and teacher presenters have challenged us to reflect on the personal and practical aspects of our teaching practices, and encouraged us to incorporate texts and methods that continually explore the historical, contemporary, and dichotomies of truths of the culture within which our students exist.

The annual CATE convention happens only because of the efforts of many teachers and other volunteers who donate their time and energy to make this weekend possible.

Let it be resolved that the California Association of Teachers of English (CATE) thank and commend the following outstanding volunteers and members of the convention committee:

Convention ChairJennifer Silver, Vistamar High School, El Segundo
Convention CoordinatorMichelle Berry, Retired, Windsor High School, Windsor
Assistant Convention CoordinatorAnnie Gervais, Mills Middle School, Rancho Cordova
Program ChairWilliam Foreman, CSU Stanislaus, Turlock
Signs ChairApril Parker, Huntington Park High School, Huntington Park
College Credit ChairKim Flachmann, CSU Bakersfield, Bakersfield
Autograph/Bookstore ChairsTracy Sprague, West Torrance High School, Torrance
Mary Adler, CSU Channel Islands, Camarillo
Promotional Merchandise ChairRandi Seligson, Hale Charter Academy, Woodland Hills
Decorations ChairRandi Seligson, Hale Charter Academy, Woodland Hills
New Teachers BoothCarol Battle, CSU San Marcos, San Marcos
Akiko Morimoto, Retired, Washington Middle School, Vista
President’s ReceptionGreg Johnson, Central Valley Continuation High School, Shafter
AV ChairMark Olson, Kern High School, Kern
Vicki Kurtz, Hoopla High School, Hoopla
Volunteer CoordinatorsAngus Dunstan, Retired, CSU Sacramento
Stephanie Johnson, CSU Long Beach
Convention PhotographerKylowna Moton, Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles
Social Media/PublicityLori Campbell, Kern High School, Bakersfield
CATE Membership BoothJoan Williams, Retired, Arcata High School, Arcata
Pre-ConventionTim Dewar, California Writing Project, UC Santa Barbara
CATE Co-TreasurersDenise Mikkonen, Stone Ranch Elementary, Poway
Patrick Keough, Westwood Elementary, Poway
Exhibits/Advertising ManagereventPower
Registration LiaisonCindy Conlin, Stratham, New Hampshire
Flyer/Program PublicationCarole LeCren, La Jolla High School, La Jolla
PrinterRick and Carol Benson, Golden Ink Litho, San Diego


California Department of Education

Commission on Teacher Credentialing

California English, CATE

English Journal, NCTE

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction

California County Superintendents Educational Services Association

California Subject Matter Project

California Mathematics Council

California Science Teachers Association

California Council for the Social Studies

California Music Education Association

California Art Education Association

California Teachers Association

Governor Gavin Newsom


References (Equitable Grading Practice)

Feldman, Joe. Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms. Corwin, a SAGE Company, 2019.

Lee Ann Jung, and Thomas R Guskey. Grading Exceptional and Struggling Learners. Thousand Oaks, Corwin Press, 2012.

Guskey, Thomas R, and Susan M Brookhart. What We Know about Grading : What Works, What Doesn’t, and What’s Next. Alexandria, Va, Ascd, 2019.

Townsley, Matt, and Nathan L Weir. Making Grades Matter. Solution Tree, 4 Mar. 2020.

Miller, Jeanetta Jones. “A Better Grading System: Standards Based Student Centered Assessment.” English Journal (NCTE), Sept. 2013, pp. 111–118, 

Spencer, Kyle. “A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry.” The New York Times, 11 Aug. 2017, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

Feldman, Joe. “Why It’s Crucial – And Really Hard – To Talk About More Equitable Grading – MindShift.” KQED, 11 Feb. 2019, . Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

Feldman, Joe. “Why It’s Crucial – And Really Hard – To Talk About More Equitable Grading – MindShift.” KQED, 11 Feb. 2019, . Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

Marzano, Robert J. Classroom Assessment and Grading That Work. Marzano Resources, December 2006.

Marzano, Robert J. Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Grading. Marzano Resources, 11 November 2009.

A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry.” The New York Times, 11 Aug. 2017, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

Reeves, Douglas, et al. Special Topic / What’s Worth Fighting Against in Grading? Vol. 74, 2017, pp. 42–45, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

Wiggins, Grant P., and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Association for Supervision and 

Curriculum Development, 2008.