When parents of elementary school students receive quarterly report cards on Oct. 25, the grade evaluations will have a new look. All report cards for students in Kindergarten-fifth grade will be aligned to the Missouri Learning Standards.
The cards will report progress in fewer standards in grades K-3, which will simplify the report and attempt to communicate to parents those standards which are most important at each grade level.
In fourth and fifth grade, the student progress will be reported by standards, rather than an all-encompassing grade such as an "A" in math, for example.
"We have been using standards-based grade cards in Kindergarten-third grade," Zach Templeton, assistant superintendent of schools, said. "It's not a huge change, but since grades are too often seen as a measure of worth, our intention is to instead create conversation about what a student knows."
The new report cards should be better aligned to the state test once the change is made from the current Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test to the test produced by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).
"There's not a huge change, but a few items have moved grade levels," Templeton said. "For example, fractions, which used to be introduced in the fourth grade, are now introduced in the third grade."
Student report cards will now change from a four point scale to a scale of only three. Grades will communicate that the student has Met the standard (M), the student is Progressing (P) or the student is making Limited Progress toward Meeting the Standard (LP).
Parents should expect their student to earn a mark of Progressing until their student can demonstrate they have met the end of year mastery level for the standard; only then will the student be given a Met the Standard designation. If a student receives a Limited Progress mark it indicates that the student is not making adequate progress and may not meet the standard before the end of the year.
"There may be some concern from parents who have always had a high-achieving child," Templeton said. "Following first quarter, a child is not likely to have earned an M for every standard. Making progress is acceptable and expected. That's what you want your child to be doing."
Holly Pashia, Hawthorne Elementary principal, said the new report cards reflect a shift in grading. "With standards-based, each grade has a goal (standard) where students are expected to be at the end of the year. Grades are no longer an average over time, but a growth model. Is this student progressing at a rate that will get him/her where he/she needs to be?"
Templeton said the new report cards will communicate more information to parents. "For example, instead of the student getting a "B" in math, now the report card will reflect that while your child has mastered multiplication through 100, he or she may not have mastered measurement."
Page 2 of 2 - Separate from the grade card will be a section called "Skills and Behaviors that Support Learning" which will evaluate other aspects of learning such as progress and effort, work habits and social behavior.
The standards based grade cards will give parents and students information about academic progress and allow teachers to identify resources needed to tailor lessons to individual needs.