Wright City schools changing to ‘evidence-based’ grading

John Rohlf, Staff Writer
Posted 1/30/23

Wright City Middle and High School will be changing their education model over the next few years under a new policy approved by the Wright City School Board last week. 

The board voted 6-0 …

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Wright City schools changing to ‘evidence-based’ grading


Wright City Middle and High School will be changing their education model over the next few years under a new policy approved by the Wright City School Board last week. 

The board voted 6-0 to move 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 middle school classes of English language arts, math and social studies next school year. The district’s plan is to implement the model fully at the middle school in the 2024-2025 school year and at the high school in the 2025-2026 school year. The recommendation was brought to the school board after a committee held seven meetings on the proposal. 

The model will remove the traditional 100 point grading scale and replace it with a four-point scale. Wright City R-II Assistant Superintendent Doug Smith said the four-point scale will award grades based on four points, with four being an ‘A’ and zero being an ‘F’. 

“(It) equates all those levels of learning,” Smith said. “They’re all the same amount of points. The same percentage. And so one bad grade doesn’t inordinately kill an overall grade like it might in the 100-point scale. It also eliminates some of the subjectivity in range reporting.”

Under the new model, the grading letters will continue to be used. The schools will also keep grade point average, class rank and weighted grades for select courses at the high school. 

Smith stressed the grades will be based on the Missouri learning standards. The new model eliminates grades for non-academic tasks. This will provide an accurate representation of a student’s knowledge and skill. The student’s grade will not be impacted by non-academic scores, such as attendance or completing homework. 

The district still plans to track whether a student is completing their tasks, but this will be separate from their academic score. Wright City Middle School and Wright City High School currently use The Habits of Work and Learning (HOWL) to report and score non-academic factors. 

“We will want to learn how we can make that work and how we can give that a little more teeth,” Smith said. “This also aligns a little bit to the grading practices at East and West that have been highly successful when they are focusing on standards more than other things.” 

Smith thinks parents will see more transparency under the new model, which is set to be implemented in phases over the next three years. There will be more specifics available when parents check the progress of their children in specific classes. 

The model will also allow students to redo and retake certain assessments and assignments.  

“Take your driving test for example,” Smith said. “If you fail it the first time, you’re not doomed to never being able to drive a vehicle. You practice. You learn a little more and go take it again. Ultimately, you get better at that. So we will continue to allow that. We believe this is going to prepare students better for college and career because we are ensuring that they are learning the material. And not just dooming them to failure.”

Board member Michael Bates was hesitant with the proposed change at first but supported the change at last week’s board meeting. Bates said he had a real issue with the redo and reassess portion of the model. He came to terms with it and now thinks it is an opportunity for the individual to become proficient in the material. 

Board member Erin Williams was initially hesitant about the plan but thought the model made sense to proceed with during the committee’s second of seven meetings. 

“I’m real excited about this,” Williams said. “Last year was my last year in elementary and the report card, the first time I got one, I was like ‘Why is this five pages long?’ But it was nice to be able to see you’re struggling with division but by the last term, now you’ve got it. It really lines those things out. I think it is very helpful as a parent to have that transparency.”

Board member Alice Jensen questioned how district administration will handle teacher resistance to the new plan. Smith noted some teachers were on the committee. He said some of the teachers who will pilot the model are already using variations of the model. 

“In our middle school, I’m looking at some of our ELA and math right now,” Smith said. “They’re already using variations of this and trying to create a really standards focused approach to instruction and assessment as it is.”  

The Warren County Record will have an article next week further detailing the evidence based model that will be implemented at Wright City Middle School and Wright City High School. 

Wright City School District


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