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EBR Misconceptions

As we move into fully living the Evidence-Based reality, we recognize that there are common misconceptions about EBR and similar systems, such as Standards-Based or Proficiency-Based Learning. The most persistent misconceptions are listed below.


  1. There are no deadlines. Deadlines are still an essential aspect of learning in evidence-based reporting, even though they may be more fluid. There will still be firm deadlines for providing evidence for targets. Learning requires students to continuously engage in the curricular experience and produce evidence that is relevant and reliable. Without deadlines, students are more likely to procrastinate and demonstrate knowledge that resides only in their short-term memory (Brown 2014 et al.). Deadlines allow the teacher to trust the evidence from students more because it is done when it is more relevant and appropriate.

  2. The grade represents growth. Factors such as behavior or growth are reported on but not included in the grade. The grade solely represents proficiency in relation to course skills. A better way to think about it is that evidence-based grading gives students time to grow in their development of skills.

  3. More students get As. While it may be true that more students do well in evidence-based grading classes, that is not due to the teacher simply handing out As and Bs. The uptick in grades is primarily due to the student being provided more time to develop and also the frequency of feedback that is provided. Time to learn from mistakes and more personalized feedback gives each student a chance to react to their mistakes and create a more rooted state of knowledge and skills. This rootedness is a primary cause for any increase in As and Bs that a school may see.

  4. Homework isn’t important or doesn’t count. It’s true that homework does not count for points in evidence-based grading, it does still have a purpose. It can be used as evidence and used in the evaluation of a student’s competence. It also can be used as preparation for formative or summative assessments. And lastly, it can be used for remediation prior to a retake opportunity.

  5. EBR is subjective. The expectations of each standard as well as the associated criteria are vetted by each instructor, their department colleagues, and other faculty. There is extensive and continual calibration among the faculty on what the standard means, the rigor level, and the associated success criteria. This calibration also includes a cross-walk with national standards to ensure each standard is interpreted and applied with fidelity in the grading process.

Adapted from

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