1. Why are elementary schools changing their grading and reporting methods?
A critical part of a child's education is determining and communicating to parents whether he or she has mastered concepts taught in class. Yet over time, the grading tools used by schools to determine and communicate student mastery have become imprecise, and frequently include factors outside of academics, including behavior and penalties for late work. As a result, it's become difficult for parents and students to ascertain whether students have in fact mastered the concepts taught. For these reasons, parents, teachers and principals have sought more consistent grading practices and a report card that clearly communicates what students have learned so that they can be successful at the next level.
2. What is the purpose of the report card?
The report card will more clearly communicate student academic achievements, learning skills, and growth over time. It will inform students, parents and guardians about how well students have learned the content and give parents and teachers the tools to better help children succeed.
This report card is designed to communicate:
• Mastery of academic standards in language arts and math,
• Learning skills that support academic success; and
• Growth over time on grade-level benchmarks in language arts and math.
3. What is Standards-Based Grading?
Standards-Based Grading tells parents how well students understand the state academic standards. It measures students' mastery of well-defined course objectives.
4. How does Standards-Based Grading work?
Traditional grading averages all of the work a student has completed in a semester, as well as other subjective factors such as behavior. Standards-Based Grading does not include non-academic factors. It solely focuses on proficiency. Standards-Based Grading considers a student's overall work, as well as his or her most recent work, to more accurately communicate what a student has learned in a semester.
5. Will Standards-Based Grading improve student learning?
Research tells us that Standards-Based Grading helps better identify where children need help so that teachers and parents can improve student learning. It also says that when student failures decrease, student behavior improves, faculty morale is better, and fewer resources have to be spent on remediation.
6. How does Standard-Based reporting differ from traditional letter grades?
The new Standards-Based Grading system will consist of two different reporting areas. The Academic Standards report communicates what standards students have mastered. The Learning Skills report assesses work habits such as cooperation and completing tasks on time.
Standards-based reports tell us what students actually have learned and know. Standards-Based Grading measures students' knowledge of grade-level content over time by reporting the most recent, consistent level of performance.
For example, in traditional grading, the student's performance for the whole quarter would be averaged. This would mean that low, early quiz scores would be averaged with higher scores achieved later in the course, and result in a lower grade. In Standards-Based Grading, a student who reaches mastery would be reported as having mastered the content –- which is the goal of the instruction -- and the grade would reflect his or her current performance level.
In addition, traditional grading often includes other subjective factors like attendance, effort, and attitude, which might influence the grade positively or negatively. In Standards-Based Grading, student mastery and work habits are reported separately in order to give a more accurate report of student progress.
7. How many academic indicators will the report card have?
The I-CANyons report card will have two indicators to report a student's understanding of the content: Mastered, and Not Yet Mastered. Asterisks will be used to let parents know that a skill is not yet ready to be assessed.
8. What is Mastery?
Mastery of the standards is achieved when students demonstrate that they can apply what they've learned consistently over time to support future learning. Mastery can be achieved at any point during the school year. Focusing on students' mastery of grade level standards guarantees all students are provided with a rigorous curriculum. It also ensures that all students are held to high expectations.
9. Why use Mastered and Not Yet Mastered?
Mastered and Not Yet Mastered are clear terms and take the guesswork out of grading. This does not represent "pass or fail" but instead explicitly communicates whether the child has met the year-end standard, or is still working toward mastering the standard.
10. What criteria do teachers use in assigning mastery grades?
Students will demonstrate their skills and understanding through class assessments, assignments and projects, and other measures. Mastery needs to mean the same in every classroom; therefore a guideline has been set. In order to show mastery, a student can demonstrate a standard 80% of the time consistently.
11. When is mastery expected to be reached?
Mastery of the standards is achieved when students demonstrate that they can apply acquired knowledge and skills consistently over time to support future learning. Mastery can be achieved at any point during the school year. We expect students to achieve mastery of the content by the end of the school year.
12. Are all the Utah Core Standards represented on the report card?
No. The report card communicates mastery of English language arts and math. This is because they are the foundational skills students must master in order to be successful in other content areas.
13. Why does the Report Card only focus on English Language Arts and Math?
First, the standards in English language arts and math are prioritized foundational skills that if not mastered will impact a student's success in all other content areas. Second, the English Language Arts and Math standards reflect an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum. For example, they teach students to understand complex text, consolidate information, evaluate information, conduct original research to solve complex problems, and analyze information, solutions and results. The English Language Arts standards emphasize the integration of social studies, science, and technical subjects.
14. "Will students still learn social studies, science, art and other content areas?"
Absolutely. Social studies, science, arts, P.E., and other content areas are critical to a child's education and future success. These content areas are part of the Utah Core Curriculum. Instruction in these content areas will not change, and these subjects will continue to be taught in every classroom.
15. Who has been involved in creating this report card?
In the spring of 2010, a committee of principals, achievement coaches, teachers and representatives from other departments was established. Every school in the District was represented on the committee. Over the course of two years, the committee met to research and create a Standards-Based report card. Last school year, 92 classroom teachers from six schools piloted the report card over two grading periods. These teachers presented the I-CANyons Report card to the Board of Education, which in spring 2013 approved the report card for district wide implementation in the 2013-2014 school year.