Qualitative Grading Best Practices

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Best practices in Qualitative Grading largely comes down to how things are labeled and named. As mentioned in the Qualitative Grading Overview article, it is important to maintain a coherent hierarchical structure of qualitative grading, and label that hierarchy clearly.

There is no limit to the number of categories, rubrics, and criteria that can be added, so schools are encouraged to add as many as necessary to represent the nature of their courses accurately. For example, a lower school language arts class may have several components or be split into different categories, such as reading, writing, and comprehension. In this instance, rubric categories should be created for each of the different components of language arts, per grade level so that the organization of the grading structure is maintained.

In this article are several examples of best practice naming conventions by school level.

Lower School

For lower school qualitative grades, each category, rubric, and criteria should be grade-level specific. Duplicate rubrics and criteria could potentially be entered, but each will apply to a different grade level. This will help in instances where a class might contain a multi-aged group of students where that may need to be graded on different criteria.


Note that an alternative report card description can be entered for the category and rubric, which can be used for display purposes on a report card or progress report document. This can be especially helpful for long rubrics that would take up too much space on a document.

  • Rubric Category: 1st Grade: Language Arts – Reading
    • Report Card Description: Language Arts – Reading
  • Rubric: 1st Grade: Language Arts – Reading – Sight Word Acquisition
    • Report Card Description: Sight Word Acquisition
  • Rubric Criteria: Memorizes and applies high-frequency words to reading situations
    • Report Card Description: Memorizes, applies high-frequency words when reading
  • Scale: LS General

Upper Middle/Upper School

Qualitative grading in a Middle or Upper School environment is less common, but may be configured for categories such as Homeroom, Participation, a PE course, or other special classes. It is less important that categories and rubrics at the upper school level be grade level specific, but the prefix “Middle School” or “MS” (or “Upper School” or “US”) should still be used to denote that this element of qualitative grading applies to the middle or upper school.


  • Rubric Category: Upper School: Homeroom
    • Report Card Description: Homeroom
  • Rubric: Upper School: Homeroom – Participation
    • Report Card Description: Participation
  • Rubric Criteria: Is on-time and comes prepared for Homeroom.

Tips and Suggestions

  1. When assigning criteria to a course with the Qualitative Grading Configuration Tool, make sure that all grading periods (everything from minor to mid-periods) to which the qualitative grade should apply are selected on the course.
  2. Make all changes to qualitative grading configuration before the end of the grading period.
  3. Minimize the number of configuration changes in the middle of a grading period, because grade records for a student enrolled in a class are created during the overnight process. If changes are made frequently to qualitative grading configuration, there is a risk that grade records will not be created appropriately.
  4. Rubric criteria are tied to past report cards, so criteria cannot be deleted. To retire “old” criteria, mark them as obsolete from a Rubric Categories query (read more about disassociating rubrics from courses).