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WPA-GO Statement on Anti-Racist Assessment

WPA-GO Anti-Racist Assessment Task Force 

Why Anti-racist Assessment? 

Because we all live, work, and learn within racist systems, it is imperative that we use our positions of privilege as members of the  academy to promote and undertake anti-racist work.WPA-GO acknowledges that an important part of doing anti-racist work is collaborating with fellow educators to become increasingly critical of unjust pedagogical practices and institutional structures that affect writing assessment and students’ learning. Thus, this statement aims to not only articulate the position of the WPA-GO, but also provide resources on anti-racist assessment and pedagogy.  We offer this statement in solidarity and in conversation with the important anti-racist work that precedes it in composition studies and beyond.

As writing scholars (Perryman-Clark; Inoue; Young; and others) have pointed out, racism in college writing courses is pervasive; specifically, conventional writing assessment upholds racism by setting up systems of racialized consequences that benefit a white middle-class performance. As a direct result, students of color are more likely to experience negative effects of assessment (Perryman-Clark “Who We Aren’t Assessing”). Furthermore, because assessment has personal, professional, and material effects that determine how students move through institutional spaces, we must recognize that assessment is never ideologically-neutral.  

Our Beliefs and Commitments

Anti-racist pedagogy is a framework that must inform all aspects of our teaching and WPA work from our assessment practices to our teaching philosophy to our curriculum design. Given our charge as an assessment task force, we will focus specifically on assessment in this document. To that end, we aim to provide a brief overview of resources that demonstrate how anti-racist approaches can be used to inform choices about assessment. In addition to our recommendations in this document, WPA-GO further discusses and affirms the need to address racism in graduate education beyond assessment practices in the Statement on Racism and (g)WPA.

We believe that the work of anti-racist assessment is a complex and ongoing conversation. While we offer specific actionable items in the following section, we believe the work of anti-racism should continually be informed through careful action and critical reflection. Our endorsed practices are a starting point, but we urge all teachers of writing to adapt and build on these tools to best serve their own institutional context. Additionally, we believe that the work of anti-racist assessment is an ongoing learning process, and we invite you to continue learning and challenging your own beliefs as we challenge ours.  

Because this is a position statement on anti-racist assessment, our task force finds it essential to acknowledge that we write this statement from our position as young, emerging scholars of color as well as white allies. Additionally, we would like to recognize and combat the white racial habitus (to borrow a phrase from Inoue) of WPA-GO, CWPA, and the field of composition. 

We endorse:

Works Cited and Resources for Further Reading 

Balester, Valerie. “How Writing Rubrics Fail: Toward a Multicultural Model” in Race and Writing Assessment, eds. Asao B. Inoue and Mya Poe. New York: Peter Lang, 2012. 

Condon, Frances and Vershawn Ashanti Young, eds. Performing Antiracist Pedagogy in

Rhetoric, Writing, and Communication. Across the Disciplines Books. The WAC

Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado, 2016.

Flores, Nelson, and Rosa, Jonathan. “Undoing Appropriateness: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and Language Diversity in Education.” Harvard Educational Review, vol. 85, no. 2, 2015, pp. 149-171.

Inoue, Asao B. Labor-Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity and Inclusion in the Compassionate Writing Classroom. The WAC Clearinghouse: Parlor Press, 2019.

---. Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a 

Socially Just Future. The WAC Clearinghouse; Parlor Press, 2015.

---. “Self-Assessment as Programmatic Center: The First Year Writing Program and its Assessment at California State University, Fresno.”  In Ecologies of Writing Programs: Program Profiles in Context. eds. Mary Jo Reiff, Anis Bawarshi, Michelle Ballif, and Christian Weisser.  Parlor Press, 2015.

---. “Antiracist Writing Pedagogy: Racialized Places of Labor and Listening.” Edited by Andre Habet,, Studies in Writing and Rhetoric, 13 Dec. 2017,

Inoue, Asao B. and Poe, Mya.  Race and Writing Assessment. New York: Peter Lang, 2012.

Matsuda, Paul Kei. “The Myth of Linguistic Homogeneity in U.S. College Composition.” College English vol. 68, no. 6, 2006, pp. 637–651.

Poe, Mya, et al. “The Legal and the Local: Using Disparate Impact Analysis to Understand the 

Consequences of Writing Assessment.” College Composition and Communication, vol.

65, no. 4, 2014, pp. 588–611.

Perryman-Clark, Staci.  Afrocentric Teacher Research. New York: Peter Lang, 2013. 

---. “Who We Are(n’t) Assessing: Racializing Language and Writing Assessment in Writing Program Administration.” College English, vol. 79, no. 2, 2016, pp. 206-211.

Perryman-Clark, Staci and Collin Lamont Craig, Eds. Black Perspectives in Writing Program 

Administration: From the Margins to the Center. NCTE, 2019.

Perryman-Clark, Staci, et al. Students' Right to Their Own Language: A Critical Sourcebook. Bedford / St Martin's, 2015.

“TYCA White Paper on Placement Reform.” Teaching English in the Two Year College, vol. 44,

  1. 2, 2016, pp. 135–157.

Young, Vershawn Ashanti and Rusty Barrett. Other People’s English: Code-Meshing, Code-Switching, and African American Literacy. Teachers College Press, 2014.

Young, Vershawn Ashanti. “Nah, We Straight:” An Argument Against Code Switching.” JAC, vol. 29, no. 1/2, 2009, pp. 49–76.

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