Wright City R-II rethinking how students are graded

John Rohlf, Staff Writer
Posted 7/15/22

The Wright City R-II School District is considering changing the grading formula at its middle school and high school.

Assistant Superintendent Doug Smith in June presented the Wright City Board …

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Wright City R-II rethinking how students are graded

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The Wright City R-II School District is considering changing the grading formula at its middle school and high school.

Assistant Superintendent Doug Smith in June presented the Wright City Board of Education with an update on an “evidence based study” committee that the board chartered in September. The group is tasked with determining whether Wright City secondary schools should switch to a model of evidence based instruction, assessment and grading.

The evidence based model focuses on competency and pacing students through grade level expectations. The model eliminates some expectations for required “seat time” in classes and moves students along once they master a subject.

Smith said the group’s consensus from their first meeting, which was held in February, was that the current grading practices at the middle school and high school are not accurate, and that students’ grades are currently impacted by behaviors. The current grading system creates “59 levels of failure,” Smith noted.

“One of the things we did at that meeting was we looked at three grading reports where students had gotten the exact same grade in three entirely different ways,” Smith said. “One of the questions posed there was, ‘If this person were to work for you doing what the core of the class was, would you equally want all of those students coming to work for you based on that grade?’ And universally the consensus was no, because some of those grades were based on things that weren’t necessarily just evidence that they can do the skill.”

The group came to a consensus at their March meeting that the evidence based grading model provides better information for parents and families about student learning. There is also an increased ability for teachers to know what students know and act accordingly. The transition would provide a consistent approach for kindergarten through 12th grade, but would require teachers to undergo substantial professional development, Smith said.

The high school would still need to maintain the grade point average and class rank for college admissions purposes, Smith said. He continued that the blended grading and assessment method of a competency based model was widely supported by the study group in April.

This model would be based on a 4.0 grading scale. The students would still have incentive to complete assignments or risk getting a zero on that assignment, Smith noted.

“This would focus all on grading, reporting, scoring and learning a target and priority of standards,” Smith said. “The model that I produced is that the priority standards are what is in the gradebook. And you have assessments of those (standards) and that’s all that gets put in the gradebook throughout the year.”

The study group plans to reconvene in the fall. They will look at the spring MAP and EOC scores, and also review findings from the competency based work group. They will then select a direction for the district and create a potential implementation timeline. They will make a recommendation to the board of education in the winter.

Wright City School District, Grading, Evidence based study

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