Proposed report cards mix old grades, new standards

Teachers, council review latest drafts of form to assess students

Posted: Thursday, May 04, 2000

Proposed new elementary school report cards will tell parents whether their children are meeting reading and math standards. And they will continue to grade students on achievement in a number of subject areas.

The draft cards -- one for kindergarten through grade three, and one for grades four and five -- follow a series of school site council meetings this winter and efforts by a committee of teachers, administrators and school board members.

Teachers and site councils are reviewing the cards and will turn in comments by May 15, said Assistant Superintendent Drew Alexander. The report cards are expected to be used next school year.

Committee member Dick Fagnant, a teacher, said earlier public hearings on the cards showed no consensus about what people wanted. So the group compromised and looked for a card parents could understand, he said.

``This is more of a cut-to-the-chase version of reporting to parents,'' Alexander said. It will accompany parent-teacher meetings where more documentation -- such as test scores -- can be supplied, he said.

The Juneau School Board abruptly canceled a pilot report card project earlier this school year, after it had been tried with some students for a year. Some parents said they didn't understand the new grades and some teachers said the cards took too long to explain.

The pilot cards generally replaced letter grades with indications of whether students were meeting or exceeding standards in language and math. They also indicated whether students were meeting teachers' expectations of individual growth.

Supporters said it focused everyone's attention on standards and acknowledged students' progress, even if they hadn't yet met the standards.

The latest draft report cards blend the old letter grades and the new concern for meeting standards. But they don't use the ``meet'' or ``exceed'' phrases that confused some parents.

The report cards tell parents in a simple yes or no whether their children are meeting new standards in English and math, and whether they are progressing as much as their teachers expect.

The report cards also grade students in numerous content areas such as reading comprehension, speaking, social studies and math. Students from kindergarten to third grade are graded outstanding, satisfactory, inconsistent and unsatisfactory. Students in grades four and five are graded A to F.

The report cards also say -- yes or no -- whether students have demonstrated numerous work habits such as following rules, perseverance, completing homework, and respecting others. It's still undecided whether teachers should be required to fill out each of these subtopics, Assistant Superintendent Alexander said.

There's also a section for teachers to recommend tutoring, after-school study, more homework or classes, or summer school. And absences and tardiness are noted.

Teachers will fill out the new report cards on computers and print them on paper for parents. The computer version allows the school district to easily compile aggregate information for individual schools or the whole school district, Alexander said.

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