Elementary schools pilot new, improved report cards

The Central Kitsap School District has been piloting a new and improved report card system focused on more than letter grades and grade point averages.

A standards-based progress style reporting method, various elementary schools have been testing the new report cards for the past two years.

“I think it’s a huge improvement,” said Julie Goldsmith, CKSD executive director of curriculum and instruction. “Parents know how (their) kids are doing ... and can see (where) to improve.”

Gail Gillis, CKSD curriculum specialist, said with the No Child Left Behind Act, CKSD is one of the last school districts to move to a “standards-based” report card system.

“What we want is a progress report to give parents information about how their students are performing in comparison to the (state level) standard,” Gillis said. “That’s why we’re changing.”

In the second year of the trial run for the standards-based progress report card, Jackson Park, Cottonwood and Silver Ridge elementary schools piloted first last year with Woodlands Elementary School testing it this year.

“We’re in the process right now of gathering the information ... and input from teachers ... so we can improve the report card,” Goldsmith said, adding many teachers like the new report cards because it better aligns with what they’re teaching.

The goals for the new standards-based report card system was for it to be a document that is clear and understandable to parents and identified the position of the student regarding at or below grade level standards. Goldsmith said another goal was to have the report card relate to what is being taught and what is reported to the parents.

Goldsmith said the report card also should have a reasonable workload, such as training necessary to implement the new system, for teachers. The new progress report card also will display the balance of individual student performance levels and their effort toward their current work in the classroom.

“Like any change ... (there is) an adjustment (period),” Goldsmith said. “It’s going to require some time to make that shift (to the new report card system).”

Gillis said teachers were provided with training for the new standards-based report card system.

“So far (feedback) has been really positive,” Gillis added.

Along with providing training, curriculum specialist Ken O’Connor had two classes for teacher training last year with his “How to Grade for Learning” workshops. Goldsmith added that O’Connor will be visiting CKSD in August to hold another workshop on the new progress report cards, with a follow-up session in September.

“Ken O’Connor is an expert in the area of standards-based grading,” Goldsmith said. “His book is available for any teacher.”

Schools that chose to pilot the new standards-based report cards were switched from a quarter system to trimester, where report cards are released three times a year instead of four.

“It’s a great tool for teachers and students, and a better way to communicate,” Goldsmith said.

Although only four of the 14 current elementary schools have decided to switch to the new report card system, Goldsmith said she hopes to have all of the elementary schools using it by the 2008-09 school year. Elementary schools will have to decide at the beginning of the year to use the standards-based report cards, they cannot switch during the year.

“We’re just going to take it one year at a time,” Gillis said. “We really want this to be useful tool for parents, and useful and easy-to-use for teachers.”

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