Skip To Main Content

Evidence-Based Grading

What is it?Evidence-based grading takes large subjects and organizes them into small learning objectives so teachers can better measure student learning. By organizing subjects into smaller objectives, teachers are able to see more specific areas where a student is flourishing or may need help. When students achieve proficiency, they gain confidence and sustainable habits that promote long-term efficacy and self-reliance. This practice prioritizes measuring identified standards rather than relying on a holistic representation. This practice gets the name “evidence-based”, because grading relies on the evidence of learning and the data it produces to better help students succeed in all identified standards.  This approach is focused solely on learning and ensuring student understanding of material rather than a student’s habits. 

In short, evidence-based grading standardizes how students are scored by eliminating from a grade any material that is not directly related to the learning standard.  

How will students be motivated without letter grades?

As the district and educators within the Middle School have taken a deep dive into evidence-based grading, we don't only look at it as a grading procedure but as a mindset. Our educators have looked at the benefit of the entire process - to shift their focus on helping the students in the progress of learning to ensure success in all standards. In a school with a traditional approach, a student may encounter numerous teachers using different grading approaches and philosophies, which can be confusing and difficult for students to manage.  Ideally, by focusing on learning over grades, students will be less worried about the grade itself and more engaged in mastering the important standards.  In short, we desire that our students will be motivated by learning and improvement more than a letter grade.

Report Card Comparison: Evidence-Based Report vs. Traditional Report



The evidence-based report card shows specifics and room for growth, rather than a holistic grade that may not reflect a comprehensive insight to what the student’s strengths and weaknesses are. Currently, Wright City Middle School is piloting the evidence-based grading approach. Students are currently only experiencing the evidence-based grading reports in ELA, History, and Math. Our intention is to ease our students and parents into understanding what the evidence-based approach entails, and how it is more beneficial to all stakeholders involved in tracking a student’s learning progress.

Essentially, one can see that the evidence-based report card is more in-depth than the traditional. This will allow teachers to be able to target learning gaps and better help students achieve mastery of all objectives. The objectives listed out on an evidence-based report card include the objectives in the class for the entire school year. So, it is not expected for a student to start off with an "A". It is the goal for students to achieve proficiency in the objectives of focus in class at the time of assessment/assignment. If a student does not achieve proficiency, the teacher will help the student in learning the material/objective, which will lead to reassessment/redoing until proficiency is achieved. If a student achieves proficiency in an advanced timeline, teachers will be able to adjust lessons and assessments/assignments to continue to academically challenge students. By the end of the school year, it is the goal for students to achieve proficiency in all objectives, resulting in a high grade.




How is this going to impact parents?

We understand the transition this year is going to be tough for students and parents, especially for students who are highly grade-motivated. Rest assured, your student is not the only one facing the change. We do have counselors and staff available to help your student adjust to the change. 

We also hope that parents can see how evidence-based grading is a remedy to the subjective traditional grading system, which can often lead to grades that do not accurately reflect what students actually know and can do. The organization of subjects into smaller objectives allows teachers to provide a more in-depth rubric for students and parents to achieve comprehensive mastery. Ultimately, evidence-based grading will provide you more insight on your student’s learning progress.  This approach has the added benefit of ensuring that a student’s learning gaps are not masked by other factors resulting in them not being addressed.  Essentially, we have better information about student progress and can assist the learning more directly.  

Finally, as a parent/guardian, you will know much more specifically the areas and standards where your student excels and where your student may be struggling.  In a more traditional system, a parent/guardian may not know exactly what measures or information is included in a grade, and this could vary from teacher to teacher; however, an evidence-based approach clearly identifies the specific skills and standards, making the grade report itself more meaningful.  

Why did Wright City Middle School adopt evidence-based grading?A program or instructional practice that is evidence-based has gone through rigorous research, has demonstrated a record of success, and there is reliable, trustworthy, and valid evidence to suggest the program is effective.  Evidence-based practices are already reflected in grading and scoring at East and West Elementary Schools through the Standards-Based instruction and assessment & LETRS learning programs.  Evidence-based practices are also cited as best practices within our English Learners' Instruction.  Evidence-based practice also supports the Success-Ready/Competency-Based work being done by DESE for MSIP 6. 

The Wright City R-II School District Board of Education chartered a study group in 2021, and work began in 2022. 32 stakeholders participated in 7 meetings throughout the year to navigate the complexities of moving Wright City Middle School and Wright City High School to an evidence-based teaching, grading, reporting, and assessment model. Some recommendations that the study group made included:

  • Grades will only be based on Missouri Learning Standards to accurately represent knowledge/skill. 

  • Staff will be able to more effectively intervene and assist students.

  • This practice will create a consistent approach to grading practices.

  • There will be a separation between academic and non-academic scores. 

    • HOWL will be scored and reported separately from academic scores.

  • Students will be allowed to re-do/re-assess.

  • Students will, ideally, be more prepared for college and career.

  • There will be transparency and clarity in student gradebooks for parents/guardians to track student progress.

Implementation Timeline

  • 23-24 School Year 

    • MS Pilot in select courses 

      • Strong foundation for evidence-based

  • 24-25 School Year 

    • 6-8 Full Implementation

  • 25-26 School Year 

    • 9-12 Implementation 

      • If 6-8 Implementation is effective


For more information on the Wright City study group, please visit Evidence-Based Study Group.


A Message From Mrs. Backues