11/27/2013 9:00:00 AM Board learns about new report card system
by Nora Bryson
Elementary Principal Derek Bell informed the Cannon Falls School Board Monday night that the Standards Based Report Card test pilot (grades K-2 during the 1st Quarter) had been successful. The new reporting system, designed to match that of the MCAs (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests) and the Standards-Based Instructional and Standards-Based Grading Systems recently instituted, uses four categories to measure academic performance: Exemplary, Proficient, Developing, and Limited Proficiency.
According to Bell's handout, the new Standards-Based Instruction focuses on both State and National education requirements that have been mapped into "Power Standards" for each grade level. The new system "focuses on what a student knows, not how long it took to get there."
The new Standards-Based Grading is meant to acknowledge "what they (students) know and can do, rather than their completion of tasks...student's work is measured against the standard, not other students' performance."
Bell said the new system makes it easier for teachers to spot areas where a student needs more help and not waste time in areas they have mastered. The new grading system will be used for the remainder of the elementary grades (3rd-5th) this next quarter. Bell said there has been talk of expanding its use to the Middle School and perhaps even the High School. He said the system would work even better if the elementary changed to a Trimester calendar of 12 weeks each.
Board members Rob Siebenaler asked how moving from 13 performance levels (4 lettered grades each with +, straight, and -, plus the F; all of which correlate to a success ratio) down to only four would give a clearer picture of what the student knows or "prove" they understand about the material. He asked what an 89% would correlate to in the new reporting system and alluded to concerns about how colleges still use GPAs (Grade Point Averages) tied to letter grades.
Bell said he would like people to "think differently about what the grade means" and how it should give the student and the teacher a better idea of what areas need more mastery.
Superintendent Beth Giese interjected that the Trimester idea needed to come through the Curriculum Committed before being acted on. Board Chair Bob Brintnall noted that there were no actions items tied to the report and they needed to move on.