What’s new with East Penn ele­men­tary re­port cards

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Margie Peter­son

East Penn ele­men­tary school stu­dents will re­ceive their first newly for­mat­ted re­port card in Novem­ber as the seven ele­men­tary schools move to a trimester sys­tem where re­port cards are is­sued three times a year in­stead of four.

Plus, the pupils will be given printed re­port cards, rather than the pre­vi­ous prac­tice of do­ing re­port cards solely on­line.

Those were a few of the more vis­i­ble changes to the ele­men­tary re­port card sys­tem, but there are oth­ers that re­vise how stu­dents are graded, ac­cord­ing to Michele James, su­per­vi­sor of ele­men­tary cur­ricu­lum and in­struc­tion. James and other ad­min­is­tra­tors ex­plained the new for­mat to the East Penn School Board at Mon­day’s meet­ing.

James said the new re­port cards are “stan­dards based” and sim­plify the re­port­ing cat­e­gories so they are eas­ier to un­der­stand and “fo­cus on learn­ing over grades.” Each re­port card will in­clude an in­sert to ex­plain how the grad­ing sys­tem works.

In­for­ma­tion ses­sions are planned this fall for par­ents in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about the re­port cards. They will be 6-7 p.m. Sept. 26 at Lin­coln Ele­men­tary, 6-7 p.m. Oct. 1 at Wil­low Lane Ele­men­tary and 6-7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Shoe­maker Ele­men­tary.

When the change to a trimester sys­tem was pro­posed in Fe­bru­ary, James told the board that it would give the youngest chil­dren time to get more in­struc­tion be­fore their first re­port card.

On Mon­day, James em­pha­sized that with email and other tech­nol­ogy, teach­ers can com­mu­ni­cate with par­ents and stu­dents and of­fer feed­back “al­most in­stan­ta­neously.” So teach­ers can of­fer com­ments and let par­ents know if their child is strug­gling be­fore the first re­port card in Novem­ber.

School board mem­bers pep­pered James with ques­tions about how the cards will work, with Di­rec­tor Paul Cham­pagne want­ing to make sure there will be enough time dur­ing fall par­ent-teacher con­fer­ences for par­ent to ask ques­tions about the for­mat.

School board Pres­i­dent Ken Bacher said the new card places more im­por­tance on teacher com­ments.

“I think the new re­port card is vastly sim­pler than the old re­port card,” he said.

On Mon­day, the board also heard an anal­y­sis of the first year of full-day kinder­garten. Erin Mur­phy, su­per­vi­sor of K-12 cur­ricu­lum and in­struc­tion in the hu­man­i­ties, said over the course of the year, they saw sig­nif­i­cant growth in stu­dents’ math and lan­guage arts skills.

In ad­di­tion, more par­ents and teach­ers felt the lit­tlest stu­dents were well pre­pared for first grade.

“So there’s a lot to cel­e­brate here,” she said.

Be­fore the change from half-day kinder­garten, some par­ents and board mem­bers wor­ried that mov­ing to full­day kinder­garten would push aca­demics too hard and leave chil­dren with lit­tle time for play.

But on Mon­day, Mary Anne Stella, a kinder­garten teacher, said one of the high­lights of the year for pupils was “pur­pose­ful play.”

“Play is non­nego­tiable or dis­pos­able,” Stella said. “And I know that in our class­rooms, that’s ex­actly what hap­pened. We kept it as a faith­ful part of our day.”

Margie Peter­son is a free­lance writer for The Morn­ing Call.

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