Labor-Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity and Inclusion in the Compassionate Writing Classroom, 2nd Edition

  • first-year composition, antiracism, culture, writing to engage, social justice, Pedagogy, writing assessment, labor-based contract grading

By Asao B. Inoue
Copy edited and designed by Mike Palmquist.

CoverIn the second edition of Labor-Based Grading Contracts, Asao B. Inoue refines his exploration of labor-based grading contracts in the writing classroom. Drawing on antiracist teaching practices, he argues that labor-based grading contracts offer a compassionate approach that is strongly grounded in social justice work. Updated with a new foreword and revised chapters, the book offers a meditation on how Inoue’s use of Freirean problem-posing led him to experiment with grading contracts. The result is a robust Marxian theory of labor that considers Hannah Arendt’s theory of labor-work-action and Barbara Adam’s concept of “timescapes.” The heart of the book details the theoretical and practical ways labor-based grading contracts can be used and assessed for effectiveness in classrooms and programs. Inoue concludes his exploration of labor-based grading by moving outside the classroom, considering how assessing writing in the socially just ways he offers in the book may provide a way to address the violence and discord seen in the world today.

Table of Contents

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Front Matter


Foreword to the Second Edition. Antiblackness and the Use of the N-Word in Academia

Introduction. Laboring Toward Grading Contracts and the Inner Dikes

Chapter 1. Problematizing Grading and the White Habitus of the Writing Classroom

Chapter 2. How I Came to Labor-Based Grading Contracts

Chapter 3. What is Labor in Labor-Based Grading Contracts?

Chapter 4. What Labor-Based Grading Contracts Look Like

Chapter 5. Why I Use a Charter for Compassion with My Contract

Chapter 6. What Concerns Are There of Labor-Based Grading Contracts?

Chapter 7. How Effective Can Labor-Based Grading Contracts Be?

Coda. Assessing English So That People Stop Killing Each Other

Works Cited

Appendix A. Grading Contract for First Year Writing

Appendix B. Sample Charter for Compassion

Appendix C. Sample Labor Log

Appendix D. Labor Instructions for Drafting Your Personal Narrative

About the Author

Asao B. Inoue is Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University. Among his many articles and chapters on writing assessment, race, and racism, his article “Theorizing Failure in U.S. Writing Assessments” in Research in the Teaching of English won the 2014 CWPA Outstanding Scholarship Award. His co-edited collection, Race and Writing Assessment (2012) won the 2014 NCTE/CCCC Outstanding Book Award for an edited collection. And his book, Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing for a Socially Just Future (2015) won the 2017 NCTE/CCCC Outstanding Book Award for a monograph and the 2015 CWPA Outstanding Book Award.

Publication Information: Inoue, Asao B. (2022). Labor-Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity and Inclusion in the Compassionate Writing Classroom, 2nd ed. The WAC Clearinghouse; University Press of Colorado.

Web Publication Date: November 14, 2022
Print Publication Date: April 2023

ISBN: 978-1-64215-182-4 (PDF) | 978-1-64215-183-1 (ePub) | 978-1-64642-413-9 (pbk.)
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2022.1824

Contact Information:
Asao B. Inoue:


Review by Shane A. Wood, University of Southern Mississippi, 2020. (First Edition)

Perspectives on Writing

Series Editors: Rich Rice, Texas Tech University; Heather MacNeill Falconer, University of Maine; and J. Michael Rifenburg, University of North Georgia

Acrobat Reader DownloadThis book is available in whole and in part in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). It is also available in a low-cost print edition from our publishing partner, the University Press of Colorado.

Copyright © 2022 Asao B. Inoue. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License. 388 pages, with notes, illustrations, and bibliographies. This book is available in print from University Press of Colorado as well as from any online or brick-and-mortar bookstore. Available in digital format for no charge on this page at the WAC Clearinghouse. You may view this book. You may print personal copies of this book. You may link to this page. You may not reproduce this book on another website.