Grading Practices

Grading Practices Audio Conversation

Listen to two WDMCS administrators discuss our commitment toward improving our grading practices to ensure all students’ grades are a true picture of what they know and are able to do in each course.


We are committed to and are making strides toward improving our grading practices to ensure all students’ grades are a true picture of what they know and are able to do in each course. A task force representing parents, teachers, central office administration, building administration, and school board members engaged in a yearlong process during the 2016-17 school year to study various assessment and grading methodologies. By consensus, the task force recommended a districtwide grading purpose statement that reads:

The purpose of grading is to communicate achievement relative
to course standards to students and parents.

The task force came to the consensus that WDMCS had the capacity to implement five grading practices focused on assessment for learning. Starting in 2017-18, an effective grading team of approximately 55 teachers, teacher leaders, and administrators began to engage in shared learning and work in order to further define each effective grading practice and impact implementation of five effective grading practices. This work has continued throughout this school year. The goal is to implement all five effective grading practices for the 2019-20 school year.

Grades reflect the standards in the Iowa Core (or equivalent standards).

The Iowa Core, mandated by Iowa Code, provides clear and rigorous expectations or standards. Some courses such as Advanced Placement courses or DMACC courses also provide rigorous expectations with course competencies or objectives. Systems that are aligned – curriculum, teaching, and assessment – will yield greater success for students.

Learn more

Use criterion-referenced grades. Students can demonstrate understanding at a specified level of proficiency.

Criterion-referenced grades are used to distribute grades related to content standards and learning targets. Criterion-referenced assessment informs how well students are performing on specific standards rather than sharing performance compared to a norm group of students.

Learn more

Achievement and behavior will be reported separately.

Achievement grades should be determined based on individual achievement of the content standards (or equivalent standards) and learning targets. Students should not be penalized for requiring more time, resources, or support to demonstrate proficiency of a standard. Effort, participation, attitude and other essential life skills should not be included in grades but should be incorporated into learning with feedback for growth.

Essential life skills will be reported separately unless they are explicitly stated in the content standard.  These attributes include continuous learning, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and professionalism.

Learn more about essential life skills

Learn more about zeros and missing work

Use quality assessments.

The term “quality assessments” includes a variety of methods to evaluate student learning. For example, a state assessment given once a year provides a snapshot of achievement. In contrast, day-to-day monitoring of learning using intentional tools and practices provides timely feedback to both students and parents/guardians.

Learn more about quality assessments

Involve students in the assessment process—allow for reassessment opportunities.

It is important for students to become reflective learners who are able to self-assess and set goals for themselves. Students learn at different rates and require multiple opportunities to practice skills, revise thinking, demonstrate their learning, and track their progress. These opportunities should be a part of the continued learning happening daily in class.

Learn more about how we will involve students in self-assessments


WDMCS Grading Scale

  • A – 90% and above (All or almost all of the course standards that have been taught at the time of reporting are fully or consistently met.)
  • B – 80-89% (Most of the course standards that have been taught at the time of reporting are fully or consistently met.)
  • C – 70-79% (Only some of the course standards that have been taught at the time of reporting are met or partially met.)
  • D – 60-69% (Only a few of the course standards that have been taught at the time of reporting are met or partially met.)
  • F – 50-59% (None or almost none of the course standards that have been taught at the time of reporting are met, even with multiple opportunities for learning.)
  • I – Incomplete at the end of a reporting period (If a student has not submitted critical evidence of learning related to priority standards and/or competencies, he/she may receive an “I” for incomplete for the course and risk the potential of not earning credit for the course if the evidence isn’t submitted.)

Grade book

All official grades will continue to be reported in Infinite Campus for 7th-12th grade, our student information system required for state reporting. Kindergarten through 6th grade will continue to use Pupil Progress Reports in Infinite Campus.

CANVAS, our learning management system, has a conventional grade book that teachers in grades 7th-12th grade will use beginning Fall 2019. In addition to the conventional grade book, CANVAS has a learning mastery component, which will allow teachers to provide feedback and report student progress with the Essential Life Skills. The learning mastery component also provides an optional location for feedback related toward progress on specific course standards and/or learning targets. Grades will continue to be posted to Infinite Campus.

A collaborative relationship is important in supporting each learner with growth and success. Please reach out to a teacher with any questions or concerns related to a student’s progress in that course or subject area.