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What is a Standards-Based Report Card?
MSAD #11 has been working over the last few years to develop and pilot a standards-based report card, which is common throughout all the schools. During the 2008-2009 school year, MSAD #11 will fully implement a standards-based report card in Grades K-8. In grades 3-8, the report card will be a “dual report card,” which means that students will receive a grade on the standard and an “A, B+, C-, etc.” grade for the overall content area. In grades 9-12, MSAD #11 is still working towards a reporting system that will track a student’s progress on state standards as well as credits and grade point average.
Standards-based grading is an effort across the United States to keep better track of what students know in relation to state standards.
What are state standards?
Every state has adopted its own list of the skills that students should learn at each grade level from Kindergarten through Grade Twelve. These lists are the state content and learning standards. Here are some examples from the 2007 version of the Maine Learning Results:
Grade 4 Math - Read and write numbers up to 100,000 in numerals and words.
Grade 8 Reading - Demonstrate ownership of appropriate vocabulary by effectively using a word in different contexts and for different purposes.
Grade 6 Social Studies - Analyze examples of democratic ideals and constitutional principles that include the rule of law, legitimate power, and common good.
Teachers are responsible for teaching the skills of their students' grade level, although standards do not say how teachers should teach.
What should I do if my child's school is switching to a standards-based report?
Ask lots of questions! If there is anything about the report card that you don't understand or that is confusing, ask your child's teacher to explain. If you are not sure if your child is doing well, ask the teacher to explain the system. For example, if your child is not proficient in some skills, ask the teacher if you should be concerned about your child’s progress.
Be sure you find out whether your child is completing assignments and developing good work habits. There is a section on the MSAD #11 report card to describe student's work habits. It is important for parents to be sure they have a complete picture of their child's learning. Some children may be able to show mastery of the standards in the lower grades without good work habits, but that will get more difficult as they progress through the grades. If there is a problem with attitude, effort, or study skills, parents need to be able to intervene as early as possible.
Take advantage of the extra information.
Standards-based report cards give you more detailed information about how your child is doing in each subject. You can use this information to help your child. Choose a skill you're concerned about and ask the teacher how you can help your child with it at home. You can also ask the teacher what he/she can do to help your child at school.
Report cards are designed to communicate with parents and give feedback to students about their progress. Report cards need to be easy to understand. If you have any suggestions or concerns about the MSAD #11 report card, then share them with the teacher and principal. Your comments may help improve it.
What is a standards-based report card?
A standards-based report card lists the most important skills students should learn in each subject at a particular grade level. The MSAD #11 report card lists these specific skills on the back of the report card.
Instead of letter grades, students receive marks that show how well they have mastered the skills. The marks show whether the student exceeded, met, partially met, or did not meet each standard. In grades 3-8, the marks on these standards are used to determine the final, overall letter grade for the content area. Grades for work habits are also important and calculated separately.
What about A's, B's, and C's? This is what I am used to and colleges are used to?
MSAD #11 will still give the traditionally used 100-point scale grade for the overall grade in grades 3-12 (A, B+, C-, etc.). So, it might say Mathematics - 93 - A. The subheadings underneath Math will be standards that are graded on a 4 point scale of DNM - Does Not Meet, PM - Partially Meets, M - Meets, and E - Exceeds. We have a Mastery and Grading Policy that correlates the two scales. Below is a chart teachers use to help them calculate grades.
Conversion Scale Grade Ranges taken from the MSAD #11 Mastery and Grading Policy approved June 2005.
E 4.00 98-100 A+
E 3.67 95-97 A
M 3.33 92-94 A-
M 3.00 89-91 B+
M 2.67 86-88 B
M 2.33 83-85 B-
PM 2.00 79-82 C+
PM 1.67 75-78 C
PM 1.33 70-74 C-
DNM 1.00 65-69 F
DNM 0.00 1-64 F
N (not enough evidence) 0.00 0 F
How are standards-based report cards different from traditional report cards?
On many traditional report cards, students receive one grade for reading, one for math, one for science and so on. On a standards-based report card, each of these subject areas is divided into a list of standards that students are responsible for learning. Students receive a separate mark for each standard.
The marks on a standards-based report card are different from traditional letter grades. Letter grades are often calculated by combining how well the student met his particular teacher's expectations, how he performed on assignments and tests, and how much effort the teacher believes he put in. Letter grades do not tell parents which skills their children have mastered.
Standards-based report cards should provide more consistency between teachers than traditional report cards, because all students are evaluated on the same grade-appropriate skills. Parents can see exactly which skills and knowledge their children have learned. The marks on a standards-based report card show how well the child has mastered the grade-level standards.
Why are some districts switching to standards-based report cards?
Students are the biggest winners when standards-based report cards are used. These report cards give students specific information about how they're doing and pinpoint where they need to improve. This approach can carry over to classroom assignments, too, as the report card influences the way teachers assess student learning throughout the year. Teachers work together to describe clearly what student work that meets the standards looks like. Teachers share these expectations with students, often posting them on the classroom wall. Now when students get an assignment they know exactly what they have to do to be proficient or advanced. That's a big change from the way assignments used to be given and graded.
The new report card is part of an effort to close the gap in achievement among different groups of students. Because concrete skills and knowledge are listed on the report card, it is one way to help monitor whether all students are being exposed to the same curriculum and learning the skills they should learn in each grade. Standards-based report cards also make the standards very clear to parents. Parents should know exactly what their students should be able to do. Standards-based report cards provide the benefit of keeping teachers and parents focused on student learning goals from the very beginning of the year. This gives students a chance to get help where it is most needed, sooner rather than later.
Are there problems with standards-based report cards?
As with any new program, students and parents should also expect some glitches and changes in the first few years. Standards-based report cards are challenging for teachers as they deal with technical difficulties at the same time they are working to align their teaching and assessment with the new report cards. Patience and understanding from parents and students go a long way when schools are working out bugs in a new program.
Sample report cards can be found on our website at http://www.msad11.org/reportcard