Policy Paper: Grading in a Comprehensive and Balanced Assessment System

“Where students were at the beginning or halfway through a learning sequence doesn’t matter. How many times they fell short during that sequence doesn’t matter. What matters is what they have learned and are now able to do.”

School districts have the power to make their grading practices an important part of a comprehensive and balanced assessment system. In this policy paper, four of the world’s top assessment experts provide a roadmap for more equitable, reliable, and meaningful grading systems that move learning forward for every student. We encourage all K-12 leaders and policy directors to read it and share with their networks.

At the 2019 National Panel on the Future of Assessment Practices, Susan Brookhart, Jay McTighe, Tom Guskey, and Dylan Wiliam discussed eight general principles for improving grading practices that they have now published in this timely and insightful paper.

  • The purpose and meaning of grades should be clear to all stakeholders.
  • Grades should reflect clear learning goals.
  • Grades should communicate student learning along a continuum based on evidence.
  • Grades should be based on criteria and scoring tools aligned to standards.
  • Grades should be issued only after students have practiced and received feedback.
  • Grades should be based on multiple dimensions of learning.
  • Grade scales should be clearly and frequently communicated to stakeholders.
  • Grades should be based on evidence collected over time.

They also offer detailed guidance to help schools and districts put these grading principles into action, giving educators, students, and families information they need and want.

Download the Paper