R-II leaders: ‘Evidence-based’ assessment will improve education

John Rohlf, Staff Writer
Posted 2/3/23

After seeing success with a similar model at the elementary schools, Wright City R-II district leadership is confident an evidence-based education model will benefit students and parents in the …

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R-II leaders: ‘Evidence-based’ assessment will improve education


After seeing success with a similar model at the elementary schools, Wright City R-II district leadership is confident an evidence-based education model will benefit students and parents in the district. 

The Wright City R-II School Board recently approved moving Wright City Middle School and Wright City High School to an evidence-based teaching, grading, reporting and assessment model. The model will be piloted in the select middle school classes in the 2023-2024 school year. The plan is for the model to be fully implemented at the middle school in the 2024-2025 school year and at the high school in the 2025-2026 school year. 

With the evidence-based model, students will be graded on assessments of learning in any form. Homework assignments and credit for certain assignments, such as getting a syllabus signed by a parent or bringing tissues to class will not be included in grades under the new format. 

“Those grades will be performance based type of assessments,” Wright City R-II Assistant Superintendent Doug Smith said. “Whether that be a presentation, a written essay of some type. A regular standard test. Some kind of a performance event where I have to actually do something and demonstrate learning in some way.”

The model will eliminate the traditional grading scale and move to a model where students can get a four, three, two, one or zero grade. The high school will still maintain GPA and class rank under the new format. 

One of the main benefits of switching to an evidence-based model is the transparency the district will have with parents. Smith said this was one of the biggest selling points for parents who were part of the study group. The parents will now be able to not only see their child’s grade on a test, but the standard which was tied to the assessment. 

“As a parent, I can go into that parent portal and I can look and say these are the things this teacher has been teaching my kid and assessing them on,” Smith said. “And now I know how my kid is doing on that.”

Smith does not think there will be a big adjustment in the core classes at the middle and high schools. The biggest change in the core classes will be adjusting to the new grading scale. He said there will be a larger adjustment for non-core classes that give out grades more on participation than performance. 

Wright City R-II Superintendent Chris Berger said the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education put out a lot of information on evidence-based assessment instruction. He thinks the consensus is that it is best practice. He added evidence based instruction is already going on in schools performing at a high level. 

Berger stressed the success with a similar model at the elementary school helped affirm to the district it was best to switch to this model. 

“I think if not for that success that we’ve seen particularly at West Elementary in the state’s MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) scores, perhaps there would be more hesitation,” Berger said. “But I think that gives our patrons that were on the committee and certainly our board confidence to take that step.”

A committee of educators, parents, students and board members all participated in some form in the committee’s seven meetings that led to this recommendation. Smith said despite some committee members being detractors of the change at the beginning, he thinks most committee members are now advocates for the change. The recommendation the district is proceeding with is different than what Smith envisioned prior to meeting with the committee. 

“I think this was a truly collaborative process between the district, students, and families,” Smith said. “That was just a remarkable committee to be a part of.” 

Wright City School District


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