Archive for Friday, September 23, 2011

First Bell: School board to learn about Standards Based Reports, which are different from traditional report cards; see how your elementary school enrollment stacks up against projections

September 23, 2011


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Changes in grading and grade-reporting processes involving some elementary and middle school students will be up for discussion during Monday night’s meeting of the Lawrence school board.

The changes involve what are known as Standards Based Reports.

Such report cards aren’t like the traditional ones many older folks recall. In grades K-3, for example, the letters A, B, C, D and F are not used as grades. Instead, students receive an S for successfully meeting standards, an M for making progress toward standards, a T for being targeted for growth, and E for excelling consistently.

Superintendent Rick Doll provides some background in a memo to board members:

“Lawrence Public Schools is committed to investigating and using best practices in grading and reporting. In 1997, an elementary progress report committee was formed to update current practices and reporting from a 26-year old report card. In 2000-2001, the elementary standards-based progress report was created by a cadre of teachers and district-wide implementation followed in 2003.”

Earlier this month I wrote a story about some of the changes going into effect for this year, and apparently some folks found the topic interesting (at last check, the online version of the story had 200 comments).

In his memo to board members, Doll outlines the rationale for planning to provide a report Monday night:

“With the move of 6th graders to the middle schools and the fact that some teachers were not familiar with the grading and reporting system, questions about the system have been raised by parents and teachers. In an effort to clearly communicate the reasons for a standards-based reporting system and to clarify misconceptions, staff is providing this report.”

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Monday at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. The meeting immediately follows a 6 p.m. study session, during which board members are scheduled to discuss “District Curriculum Review ~ Process & New Common Core State Standards.”


Members of the Lawrence school board will receive a report Monday night regarding student enrollment for the 2011-12 school year.

The report will come from Kyle Hayden, the district’s chief operations officer.

Included in his report are a couple of charts, available online. You can check them out to see which schools have how many students, and how many students are in specific classes in elementary schools. Interesting stuff.

Just FYI, at the elementary level, the district has 4,646 students in its 14 traditional elementary buildings, an increase of 30, or 0.6 percent, from the district’s projected elementary enrollment.

There are 217 different “sections,” or classes, in the elementary schools, for an average of 21.41 students per class.

Here are the variances for each school’s enrollment as compared with projections, ranging from biggest increase to biggest decrease:

• Cordley, 9.3 percent above projection.

• Hillcrest, 5.3 percent above projection.

• Broken Arrow, 5.2 percent above projection.

• Sunflower, 3.8 percent above projection.

• Sunset Hill, 2.8 percent above projection.

• Woodlawn, 2.7 percent above projection.

• Kennedy, 0.5 percent above projection.

• Pinckney, no change.

• Deerfield, 0.4 percent below projection.

• Prairie Park, 1.4 percent below projection.

• Langston Hughes, 1.9 percent below projection.

• Quail Run, 2.1 percent below projection.

• Schwegler, 4.8 percent below projection.

• New York, 8.0 percent below projection.


Stephen Roberts 6 years, 8 months ago

Looks like someone at USD497 is trying to work on a doctoral thesis project again at the expense of our kids. Here we go again.

GardenMomma 6 years, 8 months ago

Interesting that all but two of the schools slated for consolidation had an increase in enrollment and of the others, one had a decrease and one had no change.

Also interesting is that of all the schools screaming about how overcrowded they are, the only two that had an increase are the ones that picked up the bulk of Wakarusa Valley students. The rest had a decrease.

chootspa 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm a bit disturbed at the number of 5th grade classes that had 30 or more students in them. Apparently the threshold to make a new class was 32, if I'm reading that right. Yikes!

youngjayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

I hope the school board understands that teachers had little/no input in the decision to change the grading system for grades 4-6. The decision was mandated after the school year began in August; teachers were stunned! This is yet another example of job justification at the administrative level. Hopefully, parents will be outraged; that will be the only way the system will be returned to normal. Unbelievable injustice to students, parents and teachers.

zip2play 6 years, 8 months ago

As a parent I am outraged for many reasons. First off, they waited till AFTER the school year started to let us know that the grading system for this year was changing. Secondly the teachers know just as much as we parents know about it...which is NOTHING but what the letter stated. Finally my biggest objection is that middle schoolers NEED the letter based system. If you get 85% it's a B. If you push yourself to excel, 95% is an A. They don't need to merely be told "way to go Johnny, you MET standards." It is total crap. For some of us, we are working our middle schoolers so that once they hit high school they can start earning credits for college. It is my opinion this will set our middle schoolers back YEARS in the schooling process. I would like them to name how many other districts in this country do things this way. VERY FEW from what I have gathered, especially at the middles school level.

chootspa 6 years, 8 months ago

They NEED a percentage system? Where's the evidence for this? You get an 85% of what? Generally speaking, grades use a weighted percentage system that arbitrarily decides what elements are more important than others but doesn't actually measure mastery of a subject. For instance, class participation could be part of the grading standard. Does it make me less proficient in algebra if I'm nervous about answering in-class questions but can complete problems and explain my reasoning?

I'm not saying the new standard is any better, but don't attach yourself to a system for emotional reasons. I'm concerned about how they'll manage the transition to high school, too, but in theory they should already be completing work as assigned and doing their best, and there's nothing preventing a teacher from giving a student positive or negative feedback based on their assessment of how hard a student is working. I don't think this is the ambition killer you think it is. I think it's just different.

youngjayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

Parents need the percentage/letter based grading system to enable their students to set academic goals. Grades are an opportunity for students, under the guidance of their parents/teachers, to reflect on their efforts and establish new goals. An S is too broad and does not allow for that reflection and goal setting to effectively occur. This is especially important in the upper elementary and middle school years; establishing the framework for high school success.

zip2play 6 years, 8 months ago

After speaking with the district office I have been informed that, at this time, they are not doing away with the letter grade system at middle school. It is their intention to possibly add the new standards in addition to the letter grades. That was not what was explained to us by the school at all. I guess at this point there is a lot of confusion on the matter.

youngjayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

This is what teachers of grades 4-6 were told when the standards based system was implemented in 2003; letter grades/percentages would remain a part of the grading system for their students. Now, in 2011, the standards-based grades system is the only system allowed; no more percentages/letter grades. My understanding is, that teachers of grades 7 & 8 have been told that letter grades/percentages will be replaced by the standards-based grading system within a few years. Sounds as if they are already doing some two-stepping at the district office. Hopefully, the SB will stand by the students, parents and teachers on this one instead of blindly accepting what the administration is doling out.

teacherspet2 6 years, 8 months ago

I really hope that parents show up to this board meeting in force. This type of unilateral decision cannot be allowed. I find it interesting that when elementary was considering the implementation of the standards based grade card that it was a discussion for six years rather than an edict from the district. The standards based report card also prompted the adoption of the trimester schedule at the elementary because the report cards took so long to fill out. Imagine how long it will take a middle school teacher to fill out the report card when they have 120+ students versus an elementary teacher that has 20+ students. The implementation of this reporting system at 6th grade is not feasible for the amount of students each teacher has at this level. Not to mention that none of the 6th grade teachers were consulted or aware of this change prior to the school year beginning. Students at this level need to have immediate communication as to grades and missing work. This system has taken away that communication piece that Skyward provides for students, parents, and support staff. If you are concerned about this grading system, PLEASE attend the upcoming board meeting.

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