The Common Core, adopted by 46 states, is a New Jersey Department of Education initiative designed to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn.
Common Core is being implemented into the Montville School District and for the elementary schools, there will be a new report card to reflect the new standards, starting this first quarter.
Last Tuesday, Andrea Selvaggi, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction; Pat Stryker, Supervisor of Special Services; and Elise Miller, supervisor of elementary education led an Informational Parent Meeting at Cedar Hill about the new report card.
This article will look at the new elementary report cards, which start this school year.
Staff from each elementary school worked together to update the elementary report cards to show parents the standards students are responsible for learning in each grade and what they they will be assessed through the NJ ASK and PARCC.
The previous report card, the traditional one, tells parents the quality of a student’s work, which includes subject's content, student progress, social behavior, work habits, learning skills, and more.
With traditional report cards, students get one letter grade for each subject. On Standards-based report cards, each subject area is divided into a list of skills and knowledge that students are responsible for learning.
Letter grades are calculated by combining how well the student met his/her teacher's expectations, how the student performed on assignments and tests, and how much effort the teacher believes the student put in, but don’t tell parents which skills their children have mastered or whether they are working at grade level.
The new Standards-Based report card goes beyond just a Letter grade, but lets parents know if their student met the standards by the end of the grade.
A standards-based report card lists the most important skills students should learn in each subject at a particular grade level.
Because “one teacher may be ahead of another teacher by a unit or a chapter,” Standards-based report cards give more consistency between teachers than traditional report cards; now, all students are evaluated on the same grade-appropriate skills and standards.
Selvaggi gave an example in her presentation: If one fourth-grade teacher reviews basic multiplication facts, while another teaches multiplication of two- or three-digit numbers, getting an A in each of these classes would mean very different things.
“Students receive a separate mark for each standard,” said Selvaggi.
- ES – Exceeds Standard
- MS – Meets Standard
- PS – Progressing Toward Standard
- BS –Beginning Demonstration of Standard
- DS –Does not yet meet Standard
- N/A –Not Assessed at this Time “Not activated yet”
Parents can see exactly which skills and knowledge their children have learned. The marks on a standards-based report card show only how well the child has mastered the grade-level standards, and do not include effort, attitude or work habits, which are usually marked separately.
Selvaggi made it clear that when a child starts learning a standard at the beginning of the school year, parents will see that student to have BS marked next to pretty much every standard by the end of the first quarter.
“Just because they may not have met a standard, it doesn’t mean that they are not working and progressing toward that standard,” said Stryker.
Selvaggi added that unless a child comes in knowing a specific standard, all standards will be marked BS or PS by the end of the first quarter. She added that by the second or third quarter, students should be at PS for most standards.
“We had to come up with a compromise ... if we just do the standard, what do we do with that child that is below because they’re special education or they’re English as a Second Language?” said Selvaggi. “It’s important that they feel good about coming to school. They know that if they come here and work hard and put forth a great effort, even if they’re not where they need to be right now, that’s ok. We’ll get them there, but they should be rewarded for that effort.”
To also include the portion of the tradition report card that takes into consideration a student’s effort and attitude, the new report cards will also include a grade for effort for grades K-5 and a letter grade for grades 3-5.
With only the Standard-based marks, “there’s no room for homework … assessment, creativity on a teacher’s part to do something that may not encompass all the standards all the time. What about character education?” By keeping in the effort and letter grades, it doesn’t “diminish some of the quality things that we do in our schools that are important to children.”
Effort will be graded by the following:
- 1 - Outstanding
- 2 - Satisfactory
- 3 - Inconsistent
- 4 - Minimal
Letter grades will be the following:
- A+ 97-100
- A 94-96
- A- 90-93
- B+ 87-89
- B 84-86
- B- 80-83
- C+ 77-79
- C 74-76
- C- 70-73
- D+ 67-69
- D 64-66
- D- 60-63
- F below 60
Stryker said, for special education, IEPs will “still be the focus.”
“All of the standards may not be reflected in their goals and objectives … children have strengths and weaknesses,” said Stryker. “
The report card will also have:
- Goals and Objectives as per IEPs
- Grades include modifications and accommodations
- Comments explain child’s progress toward meeting the standard.
They have an entire year to achieve that standard,” said Stryker. “If by the end of the year, a child has not achieved that standard and you see that on the report card, that comments section” is going to let parents know where their child stands.