Feed­back sought on re­port cards

Teach­ers can ex­plain new grad­ing sys­tem to par­ents

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­[email protected]­news.com

No news is good news with the lack of par­ent feed­back about the tran­si­tion to stan­dards-based re­port cards at St. Mary’s pub­lic schools.

Au­drey El­lis, Ben­jamin Ban­neker El­e­men­tary School prin­ci­pal, said at the Dec. 12 school board meet­ing third-graders re­ceived their in­au­gu­ral stan­dards-based re­port cards on Nov. 14. The newer style of re­port cards “are what’s best for kids and our com­mu­nity,” she said.

El­lis said “there have been very few ques­tions re­lated to the re­port cards” and school ad­min­is­tra­tors are seek­ing feed­back through sur­veys.

Of the 32 re­sponses from a third-grade teacher sur­vey, 71.9 per­cent said the newer style of re­port cards pro­vided an ac­cu­rate pic­ture of stu­dent progress. 54.8 per­cent of teach­ers said they’ve re­ceived no feed­back from par­ents, while an­other 25.8 per­cent said they were able to an­swer the few ques­tions par­ents had. About 96.9 per­cent of teach­ers said they felt mod­er­ately or very sup­ported dur­ing the tran­si­tion process with pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment and time to plan with each other.

Of the 13 prin­ci­pals who re­sponded to a dif­fer­ent sur­vey, 61.5 per­cent said they’ve re­ceived no par­ent feed­back about the new re­port card style. Su­per­in­ten­dent Scott Smith said there are cur­rently 18 el­e­men­tary school prin­ci­pals.

Ram­sey es­ti­mated there are “be­tween 60 and 64” third-grade teach­ers in county schools.

Jim Davis, school board mem­ber, asked if it was good or bad that par­ents had no feed­back or ques­tions about the tran­si­tion. “I was think­ing ‘that’s bad,’ but then I got to think­ing ‘that’s good,’” he said.

“We al­ways think the same thing,” said Beth Ram­sey, Capt. Wal­ter Fran­cis Duke El­e­men­tary prin­ci­pal. She said staff have been avail­able at par­ent in­for­ma­tion nights and will con­tinue to be as ques­tions crop up. She said, “Teach­ers are able to talk with con­fi­dence … about why this is best for that spe­cific child.”

She con­tin­ued, “If peo­ple were re­ally con­cerned, we would hear more con­cerns.”

Karin Bai­ley, school board chair­woman, said with the new style of re­port cards there is less like­li­hood of teach­ers stray­ing from the re­quired stan­dards while les­son plan­ning.

Smith said teach­ers are work­ing to­gether to have a more uni­fied way to present their stu­dents’ progress to par­ents. He said St. Mary’s schools are mov­ing away from a style of teach­ing that may have been more ac­cept­able 30 years ago where they “taught a les­son that they were com­fort­able with a re­source that they en­joyed them­selves, and cre­ated an as­sess­ment af­ter­wards that may or may not have truly had any mean­ing.”

Bai­ley said some par­ents and teach­ers ini­tially ex­pressed frus­tra­tion about the tran­si­tion.

“It’s not that [teach­ers] weren’t teach­ing what they were sup­posed to teach, it’s just they weren’t align­ing what their les­sons were to the stan­dards” to help cre­ate a re­port card, Bai­ley said.

The switch to a stan­dards-based re­port card sys­tem is meant to fo­cus on teach­ing the stan­dards for each grade level, Ram­sey said. Hav­ing nar­ra­tives pro­vides spe­cific feed­back to fam­i­lies about their child’s progress as well as more in­for­ma­tion about a child’s progress to­ward the Mary­land Col­lege and Ca­reer Readi­ness stan­dards re­quired by the state, she said.

Prior to man­dat­ing the stan­dards based re­port cards, teach­ers would as­sign an A through F let­ter grade, and op­tional cod­ing linked to de­scrip­tions of skills ac­com­plished. Staff have been work­ing since 2015 to tran­si­tion to the up­dated re­port­ing, with this school year be­ing the first that stu­dents re­ceived the newer style of re­port cards, she said.

“In the next two years, we’ll con­tinue to roll it up to the fourth and fifth grade,” Ram­sey said.

Along with the stu­dent spe­cific nar­ra­tive, an­other com­po­nents of the newer style of re­port cards in­di­cates “a level of com­mand a stu­dent has demon­strated on an end-of-theyear goal,” Ram­sey said, adding the nar­ra­tive will note a child’s strengths, read­ing level, ar­eas of aca­demic growth and more “in par­ent friendly terms.” She noted that stan­dards based re­port cards may dif­fer slightly from school to school.

This school year, fourth grade teach­ers gath­ered “to pre­pare for the change next year,” she said. In­for­ma­tion about the new re­port­ing style was re­leased in school based news­let­ters, par­ent in­for­ma­tion events and through the main schools’ web­site, she said.

See www.sm­cps.org/ dci/el­em­re­port­card for more in­for­ma­tion.



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