The purpose of this information guide is to provide parents in all Elementary Schools with information about the new standards-based report card and to answer the most frequently asked questions about reporting and grading aligned to academic standards.
In 2014, Vincennes Community School Corporation convened a group of administrators and teachers to begin revising the elementary report card. The committee reviewed literature on grading, looked at a variety of grading systems, and collected sample report cards and parent information from other school districts to help guide the process. The committee finalized its work in the spring of 2015 and piloted the system during the fourth nine weeks. Currently, we are in an implementation pilot phase. During this phase, the framework of the system is complete, but adjustments will be made to ensure that student grades truly reflect student learning. The adjustments that will be made include grade weights, category of assignment adjustments, and assignments considered to calculate.
Why is the VCSC transitioning to a standards-based reporting system? Standards have provided the foundation for the development of the VCSC’s curriculum for quite some time. The traditional report card no longer provides parents with enough information regarding their child’s progress towards meeting these grade level standards. Parents are asking for more detailed information about their child’s progress. Administrators and teachers want to provide parents and students with information regarding your individual achievement aligned to these statewide academic standards.
What are standards? A standards-based report card provides parents with specific information about their child’s achievement relative to each standard. Academic standards are a set of learning goals for each grade level and subject area. These grade specific learning goals identify the content and skills students must achieve by the end of each school year. These standards increase in complexity as students move from one grade level to another. You may also review all K-12 academic standards on the IN Department of Education website at www.doe.in.us/standards.
How is achievement identified on the report card? Each academic standard listed on the report card will be evaluated as follows: Exemplary (E); Meeting the Standard (M); Progress toward the Standard (P); and Not Meeting Standard (N). Many of the skills listed on the report card are end-of-year competencies, so it will not be unusual for students to be “progressing towards the standard” at the beginning of the year, with proficiency or beyond by year’s end. Achievement will be reported on a broad range of academic standards in the areas of language arts, reading, and mathematics. Traditional and Standards grades will be utilized in grades 3-5, while standards grades will be calculated in K-2.
Why are letter grades not used in K-2, but continue in grades 3-5? The practice of averaging scores throughout a marking period is a formula that presumes that students must reach mastery of skills early in the school year with little room for error. In addition, grades are often calculated by combining how well the student met a teacher’s expectations, how much effort the student put forth, and how the student is doing in comparison to other students. A traditional letter grade only tells the student and parent how well he or she performed on average in a broad area such as reading or math. A standards-based report card measures how well the individual student is doing in relationship to each grade level standard or learning goal. In grades 3-5 we will utilize both methods with the letter grade being weighted to all for the final grade to be more reflective of student mastery. The addition of the standards grade in 3-5 will allow parents to have a better pictures of areas of strengths and weaknesses.
How will the teacher assess my child’s progress? In standards-based classrooms, the focus is on a student’s performance over multiple opportunities, not simply grading and averaging tests and quizzes. Teachers collect evidence of students’ achievement through careful observation, examination of student’s work, discussions, projects, performance tasks, quizzes and tests. Teachers record information about each child’s progress on a frequent basis, analyze and compile this information, and use this data to evaluate a child’s progress towards meeting grade level standards. The VCSC has developed a set of criteria for each standard on the report card through formative assessments. This criteria will help teachers evaluate the progress of your child’s achievement at each marking period throughout the school year.
How is proficiency reported for Article 7 special education students, students with 504 Plans and Gifted Students? No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulate assessment practices for students who are classified with a disability or are in need of specially designed instruction. Special education students must be graded using the same grading system as all other students and their academic program must be aligned to the state’s academic standards. The Individual Education Plan (IEP) team determines, what, if any, accommodations and/or modifications are needed for the student to meet the standards. The IEP team aligns each annual goal to the appropriate standards and monitors progress throughout the school year.
How can parents support their children at home? A key advantage of the new reporting system is that it provides more specific information to parents in working with their child at home on identified skill areas. The academic standards or learning goals help parents know what their child is working on in school and can provide the basis for conversations at home between parents and their children. This information can be used by parents to support the school’s efforts in educating their child to reach proficiency or to move their child to more advanced levels. The report card serves as one communication device used by teachers to inform parents of their child’s progress. Parents are encouraged to communicate with their child’s teacher as needed. You play a vital role in your child’s academic success.
How will our children’s progress be reported in the areas of art, music, physical education, social studies, and science class? Grading for these subject areas will not change from previous years; therefore, you will see letter grades for science and social studies only in grades 3-5, grades will not be given in art, music, and physical education.