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New Report Card Eliminates "A, B, C" Grading in Grades K-4

School Committee members heard a report from Director of Teaching, Learning and Accountability Kerry Clery on a new report card which will eliminate the traditional grading system of evaluating students' performances and replace it with a reporting system aligned with new curriculum standards being implemented in the school district.

The new report card will no longer report letters of "A, B, C, D or F" to evaluate a student's performance where an "A" reflects high performance and an "F" reflects a failing grade. The new report card and reporting system will be implemented in this school year at the elementary level in grades Kindergarten through four.

The new report card will report on a student's performance using the letters "M, P and I." A student receiving a grade of "M" means that the student has performed at a level that meets the standard of what students should know at a certain grade level.

The standard for learning at specific grade levels are outlined in the new curriculum standards adopted by the state and the district under the federal legislation of "No Child Left Behind" and the sub-program "Race to the Top." A student receiving a grade of "P" means that a student is progressing towards the standard. A student receiving a grade of "I" indicates that the student is making insufficient progress towards the standard.

Liz Garden, Assistant Principal at Florence Roche School, who worked on developing the format of the new grade reporting system said the major change in using what is called "Standards Based Report Cards" is that students will not be graded in relation to other students but rather students will be graded against a standard for each grade level. Garden also noted that the new reporting system will give parents more information on what students should know at their respective grade levels.

Another major change under Standards Based Report Cards is that students will also be evaluated on social skills and on their learning skills. Garden said the new report card will separate achievement in a subject area from work habits and social skills. Some of the factors which will be evaluated under social skills include "Shows Respect for Others." Some of the factors which will be evaluated under "Student as Learner" include "Demonstrates Organizational Skills." Garden noted that a listing of these factors will appear separately on the new report card and the teacher will place an "X" next to the factors where the student is doing well. If no "X" is placed next to certain factors, it means the student needs help and improvement in those areas.

Another change to go along with the new report card are the number of reporting periods during the school year. Under the old grading system, students would receive four report cards during the school year. With the new Standards Based Report Cards, students will receive three report cards during the school year as the elementary schools will switch from a quarterly reporting system to a trimester reporting system. Laurie Mills, a fourth grade teacher at Florence Roche School, who worked with Liz Garden on the new report card said a trimester system will allow teachers more time to evaluate students and also allow more time for students to learn or "practice" the knowledge and skills required by the new curriculum standards before they are graded or evaluated on them.

Students in the elementary grades and their parents will receive the new report cards on Dec. 7 and curriculum staff and teachers will be looking for feedback from parents. Curriculum staff and teachers will also meet during the month of December to review progress of the new reporting system after the first trimester. When new report cards are sent home after the second trimester at the end of March, parents will be able to complete an online survey about the new grading system.

School Committee members were pleased with the new report card and performance it will grade and with the fact that social skills and learning skills will be evaluated along with achievement in the subject areas.

Groton Herald

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