This coming school year, making the grade is taking on some new meaning for students.
With parents’ input, district administration staff and teachers have been retooling the report cards for grades K-5 and 6-8.
It’s an evolving process for which “we will be seeking feedback from parents after each report card distribution next year; and we will use that information to determine if additional changes are warranted,” said.
The parents’ survey results revealed overwhelmingly that they wanted to see consistency in the grading process, said Katy Frissora, chairwoman of the Curriculum Committee, who is the lead coordinator of the effort.
How that applied in reworking the grades K-5 reports is that “gradients were added” to the existing numerical scale, such as pluses and minuses (1+, 2+ or -), while units of study were removed.
The result, said Cronin, is what she and the committee believe will “simplify the format of the report card and allow for more nuanced grading.”
For grades 6-8, students will get letter grades that will be “based on a (more) true average of tests, quizzes and projects …” that will exclude other numbers that were there before, Frissora said at the July board meeting.
Those middle school students will also be evaluated on subject-specific standards, because “we can’t take away the standards,” Frissora said. “Though one piece we’re still working on is social learning skills. We’re trying to come up with a common bank that all will use.”
The social skills element is one which teachers and parents expressed in the survey that they feel is a critical element in measuring and nurturing students’ academic and social growth.
The effect the new grading system will have on students is multi-faceted, but hones in on more recognition of effort, Cronin said.
For instance, “a student who does his or her homework at the last minute and gets A’s may not make it to honors with this system,” she said, because more weight will be placed on the effort exerted to make the grade.
And, Frissora said, elements such as placing more weight on homework the higher the grade will also be as part of the new process.
“We feel that the revised report card will be highly informative while also being easy to read and understand,” Cronin said. “Our ultimate goal is to use our student information system to post report cards online, which will save both time and paper.”