What’s new with East Penn elementary report cards
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.