Lincoln elementary schools switching to trimesters, new report cards

Lincoln elementary schools switching to trimesters, new report cards

LINCOLN - As students return from vacation this fall, elementary schools in Lincoln will move from quarters to trimesters and start using new report cards that grade students on a scale of 1 to 4.

The changes were announced at a School Committee workshop on Monday night, prior to its regular meeting, when Curriculum Director Caroline Frey explained how the new report cards better reflect work being done in the classroom with the Common Core State Standards.

Parents may instinctively look at the four-point scale as A, B, C, D, she said, but there is no direct translation.

The primary goal is to have students achieve 3's, she said, which stand for "meeting the standard." Only 10 percent of students are expected to receive 4's for "exceeding the standard," Frey said.

"Meeting the standard is exactly where you should be," she said.

A score of 2 means "approaching the standard," and a 1 means "not meeting the standard."

Northern Lincoln Elementary School Asst. Principal Susan Imschweiler compared the new grading system to riding a bike. It does not matter how many times you fall off the bike, she said, as long as you achieve the goal in the end.

Similarly, grades will be less of an average, Imschweiler explained, and more of an overall assessment of progress, so early scores of 1's and 2's would not keep a student from achieving a 3 if he or she met the standard by the end of the trimester.

The entire school department, from administrators to teachers, will be committed to helping parents understand the changes, Frey said, and informational meetings will be scheduled. Principals and teachers are already familiar with the changes, as they have provided feedback and critiques over the past two years to create this final product.

Teachers will also be encouraged to send home rubrics with each graded assignment, with numbers 1-4 circled to make parents and students more familiar with the break from the standard 100-point scale.

The grading process for work like spelling tests and other assignments that better lend themselves to a percentage score will not change, Frey said, but overall spelling skills, for example, can be considered with a score of 1 to 4 as they pertain to writing standards.

Currently, she said, teachers are already teaching using these rubrics and standards, but have had to convert performance to a number score out of 100 for the existing "antiquated" report cards.

"The report card we had before isn't even what we're teaching anymore," said Central Elementary School Principal Patricia Gablinske, adding that with CCSS language included in the new report cards, there should be no confusion.

Trimesters will allow for more time to get acclimated to these writing- and comprehension-intense standards, Frey said, as well as more time to teach and fully address issues.

The three-page report cards are similar for each grade, but list specific criteria for achieving one level's standards. They will be sent home Nov. 26, March 12, and June 12, with the first set of parent-teacher conferences scheduled for early December. Progress reports are scheduled to be sent home Oct. 7, Jan. 15, and April 16, with no progress reports sent home in the first trimester of kindergarten.

Categories for grading, each broken down into a number of specific standards, include math, English language arts, social studies, science, visual arts, music, library, physical education and health. ELA skills also include writing and speaking.

"We identified each area of standards and those most powerful for those grades," Frey said.

Key learner behaviors, such as listening and following directions, will also be graded on the four-point scale.

"All of these things absolutely impact what goes on in the classroom and their ability to achieve success," Frey said, noting that teachers will also have the option to indicate whether a lack of attendance is negatively affecting progress.

Supt. Georgia Fortunato called the new report cards "a much better instrument."

She said there are no plans at this time to make the same revisions at the middle school or high school level.

School Committee Vice Chairwoman Mary Anne Roll echoed sentiments that communication will be key to the successful rollout of the changes.

"I do think there's value in this," she said, "as long as parents are getting ongoing communication, and consistent communication from school to school."

Comments

One more example of so-called educator feeling they need to justify their existence and cover-up what it is they ARE NOT accomplishing with our children by 'FIXING SOMETHING THAT WORKS AND 'IS NOT' BROKEN!