Attitude change is not enough: Disrupting deficit grading practices to disrupt dialect prejudice

Rebecca S. Wheeler


If we wish to truly dismantle the linguistic hegemony in our schools, we must not only improve negative attitudes toward vernacular dialects, but we must also unseat discriminatory grading practices. Teachers may understand that vernacular dialects are differently patterned, not deficient, but if they do not learn grading practices embodying the difference approach, then dialect discrimination remains. In sum, this paper a) demonstrates the need for change in grading practices in dialectally diverse classrooms, b) illustrates teacher resistance to learning salient grammar (SAE and AAVE) underlying change of practice and c) suggests that addressing discriminatory grading practices is the next frontier of in the work of linguistic social justice.


AAVE, African American Vernacular English; dialect prejudice, grading, deficit, contrastive analysis, code-switching, grammar, fear of grammar, Standard English

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Copyright (c) 2019 Rebecca S Wheeler

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