Elementary report cards changed
January 2, 2009
By Chantelle Lusebrink
Elementary report cards may look a bit different then they have in the past. For the past three years, school district officials have been
asking parents and teachers what, if anything, they should change.
If you’re new to having a child in school or recently moved from another district, the biggest change you’ll notice is the number-grading system Issaquah uses for elementary students, not the letter-grading system you may have known.
But that isn’t actually a change at all, said Lynn Brogan, chief academic officer for the district.
“We’ve had a 4, 3, 2, 1 scale for about eight years,” she said.
The numbers correspond to the following comments:
1: Below grade level expectations: area of concern
2: Approaches grade level standards: needs additional practice or support
3: Meets grade level expectations
4: Exceeds grade level expectations
What has changed, however, is that the report cards are now uniform and consistent in every class in every grade at every school. Before, some schools may have used pluses or minuses to denote additional points awarded to a grade. Those are no longer available for use.
Also during the past year, district officials have realigned their grading system to match ever-changing state requirements, Brogan said.
For instance, state officials recently adopted new requirements in math standards. The new report card’s scoring guide on the district’s Web site reflects those changes.
If a child is receiving 3s in any content areas, like math, reading or social/learning skills, then the child is meeting the school’s, district’s and state’s high expectations for those skill sets, according to district information.
“It is not a competition to see if I can get myself to a 4. Our 3 is a very high level standard, and that is where we expect most kids to be and that is a good thing,” Brogan said.
The new report cards also break apart grades in academic areas, like math or reading, and grades students receive for social and learning skills.
A student’s grade in math no longer reflects how well he or she organizes his or her time or how well he or she behaves in class. Those grades are separate.
District officials, with parents and teachers, also revamped the comment section of the report card.
“Parents said they really wanted comments that were to the point and that could really help them help their students,” Brogan said.
Instead of general comments like “completes work on time,” teachers will make comments on report cards any time a student is below standard and there will be a specific comment to go with that, she said.
For students that are performing at a 3, at grade level, or a 4, above grade level, parents can refer to the scoring guide, which acts as a long list of teacher comments for additional information.
Parents who have additional questions or concerns can always talk to the teacher who gave the grade.
District officials have also improved the visibility of the new report card and the scoring guide by placing it online, so parents can access it more readily.
“We felt that it was important that people knew and understood where to find the information to better help their child,” Brogan said.
However, the new report cards are not set in stone, she said.
The fall and winter report cards are part of a districtwide field test. A limited field test was conducted at some schools last year.
District officials want parents and teachers to use the new report cards twice before filling out a survey and providing feedback to them in March on how they can further improve them.
Three years ago, district officials began examining how to better communicate student grades and expectations on report cards.
District officials are conducting a districtwide field test of the new report cards.
In March, district officials will ask parents and teachers for feedback on the cards.