Archive for Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Halt to standards-based grades sought for Lawrence middle schools

Jill Patton, left, joins more than 80 people in attending a Lawrence school board meeting that included a discussion of standards-based grading for sixth-graders in Lawrence middle schools. Patton was among those opposed to the use of such grades. The meeting was Sept. 26, 2011, at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

Jill Patton, left, joins more than 80 people in attending a Lawrence school board meeting that included a discussion of standards-based grading for sixth-graders in Lawrence middle schools. Patton was among those opposed to the use of such grades. The meeting was Sept. 26, 2011, at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

September 27, 2011


Sixth-graders now are taking electives, using lockers, dressing out for gym and doing plenty of other things at school to prepare them for an eventual transition to high school.

But they’re keeping their standards-based grading system, and that has some parents and teachers worried.

“My students don’t know what they’re doing,” said Jill Patton, whose daughter this year entered sixth-grade in the Lawrence school district after elementary school at Corpus Christi Catholic School, where traditional letter grades were the norm. “They do not know what is expected in the classroom.”

While sixth-graders in the district still will receive letter grades — just as they would have last year in elementary school — they also will receive grades of E, S, M or T on more than a dozen categories spanning knowledge and learner behaviors, also just as they would have last year.

It’s just that this year all sixth-graders are in middle schools, and that means multiple classes, multiple teachers and multiple changes for students, parents and teachers grappling with a district that has been “reconfigured for student success.”

And parents such as Patton took their concerns Monday night to the Lawrence school board, hoping to halt the introduction of standards-based grading into middle schools amid complaints of a lack of teacher training, absence of parental input and plenty of worries about student motivation.

“We do not want to be the first class of trial and error,” said Patton, who has worked as an elementary teacher. “We are asking you to stop this right now and save this school year and go back, retrain, start over, get the parents on board, get the students on board, (and) get the teachers on board.

“We are floating and floundering, and that is not what Lawrence USD 497 is known for.”

Board members listened as several parents and one district teacher made their way to the microphone, outlining a series of complaints about notification and implementation and professional development and research and other shortcomings of the process.

Their comments came after Kim Bodensteiner, the district’s chief academic officer, had explained that the grading system had been in the district for 10 years at the elementary level, had been planned to remain with sixth-graders as that grade level moved up into middle school, and that teachers had been informed of the grading program during meetings in both February and May.

Despite all that, however, she conceded that “misconceptions” had made their way into the mainstream.

“I apologize to the parents and to the board,” she said.

In the end, board members did not make any decisions about the grading system, the one supported by administrators for giving parents and students more information about actual knowledge and learner behaviors than could be contained in a single letter grade. From “E” for “excels” to “T” for “targeted for growth,” students receive markers in conjunction with state assessments on skills and the behaviors — turning in homework on time, being prepared for class, etc. — needed to succeed in school.

Mike Orozco, who has a first-grader and a third-grader at Langston Hughes School, told board members he liked the idea of kids picking up collaborative skills and learning to work with people. Those are the kinds of skills students will need to succeed in the business world, he said.

“Those are all things that are very important to us,” said Orozco, US Bank’s regional president for Kansas, northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa. “But the other things that we look for are kids that are overachievers, that have high, demonstrated track records of success.”

Standards-based grading sounds like “just another example of political correctness run amok,” he said, “a way to standardize performance and really getting away from helping kids do the best that they can and try to excel.”

And if the district follows through with plans for adding such grading in seventh- and eighth-grades — an idea suggested by administrators earlier this year but not committed to Monday night — students might be in for a surprise come high school, Orozco said.

“I’m really concerned about preparing our children for what is a very competitive world,” he said.

Board members didn’t make any moves to change the current process, or to seek further information, or to schedule a future date to review the issue again, although they do intend to keep their eyes on the process as it moves through implementation with the end of the first quarter next month.

But the parents who showed up Monday aren’t done yet.

“We feel like we’re not done,” Patton said out in the lobby, comparing notes with other parents. “We’re going to regroup, and we’re going to be back.”


Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

School Features Real-World Learning, No Grades

April 25, 2005

It's hard to imagine a school with no tests, no grades and no classes. But those familiar elements of education are missing at two dozen Big Picture schools in six states, each with no more than 120 students.

They emphasize work in the real world, portfolios, oral presentations and intense relationships between students and advisers. Margot Adler visits one of the schools, called The Met, the 10-year-old model for the schools, in Providence, R.I.

Students are encouraged to discover their passions, interning two days a week with mentors in the community who relate those passions to the real world. The student might work at a hospital, a bakery, or an architectural firm. School projects are designed by the mentor, the adviser and the student together — and are presented orally, along with a portfolio, every nine weeks.

Vimar Rodriguez, an 11th grader interested in medicine, has a neighborhood pediatrician as a mentor. Dr. Hector Cordero says she knew little when she started interning at his office.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Hodgkins Elementary School Creates Environment With No Grades, No Grade Levels

At a Denver area elementary school, students are organized into classes in an unconventional manner -- they are arranged by what they know, not their age or mandatory grade level.

All Hodgkins Elementary School students learn at their own pace and are grouped together for specific lessons based on their skills in that area...

tankernav 6 years, 7 months ago

I was at the meeting and the article was not able to cover ALL the topics. One important reason parents and teachers are opposed is that there has been inadequate training for teachers, 1 hour only had been mandated. Parents were not even told about the system until the second week in September. The issue is not that we are against reporting on learning behaviors. I have a sixth grader. Neither she nor I have any idea how she is doing right now in school because there is NO system in place to evaluate that. I NEVER receive any papers home and the first time I will find out is at parent teacher meeting on October 18th.

This is NOT the system that was in place k-6. The teachers have 120-150 students NOT 25-20. Papers don't come home on a weekly basis. Teachers in k-6 had systems in place to record and average grade to be able to put a letter grade on the report card. Our middle school teachers no longer have this tool.

One BRAVE teach stood up and talked. She said in the training teachers were encouraged to used mass grading as a time management tool. For example, selecting a learning behavior and giving everyone a "s", there is even a box to check to do mass grading.

If you really want to understand what is going on ask a parent of a 6th grader or better yet ask the teachers and principals at the middle schools.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

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chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

No thanks. I like kids that know how to read, learn actual science, and don't reject germ theory for quack medicine, tyvm. That's ignoring the whole bullying and racism issues associated with Waldorf.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

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Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

Doing a little comment spamming for Oak Meadow, merrill? Why don't you just buy them an ad?

cato_the_elder 6 years, 7 months ago

Hats off to the caring parents who are fighting this latest dose of outcomes-based education from the touchy-feely folks currently in charge of U.S.D. 497, which, just like Lake Wobegon, continues to strive to make all of its students "above average."

weeslicket 6 years, 7 months ago

so, mr. cato, your are against outcomes based education. does that make you in favor of input based education??

cato_the_elder 6 years, 7 months ago

Weeslicket, I can teach anyone to dunk a basketball.

All I have to do is lower the goal.

That's outcomes-based education in a nutshell, my friend.

weeslicket 6 years, 7 months ago

no. that's the cato_the_elder model of teaching basketball. (success can only = lower goals) do try again later.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 7 months ago

Weeslicket, do you have any knowledge as to how outcomes-based education works? Do you agree with one of its essential premises that "there's no such thing as a "C" student, and that "everyone's an "A" student?"

edmclinn 6 years, 7 months ago

LOL, what exactly is wrong with letter grades? If you do your work you pass, if you put extra effort into your education you pass with an A. If you sit on your rump and do nothing, well sorry kid you fail.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 7 months ago

Education needs to compete in the marketplace. Charter schools are the solution. Public education is a joke, ran by the unions who's primary goal (Unions not most teachers) is the same as all unions -- the unions survival. Need to get the administration out of the way and let the teachers teach on a performance based system. Competition between schools is the only answer. Question is how to fund it.

thebigspoon 6 years, 7 months ago

Well, if your grammar and word useage is any indication, whatever schools you attendeed did nothing for you. You erred in the following (corrections made): 1) Public educatiion is a joke, run by the unions whose primary goals (unions', not teachers') are the same as all unions: the unions' survival. We (or one, or the need is to, or something to make a subject for this sentence) to get the administrations out of the way and let the teachers teach on a performance-based system.
Competition between schools is the only answer. The question is, "How can it be funded?".

Now, I do agree that the public school model is better suited for most students and for the parents who must pay for that education. But your premise, that the "unions" are the culprit, is way off base. The simple fact is that most teachers are in the business to make life better for the students and the business end (union activity) is something that comes with the territory. I know there will be a great rolling of eyes at that statement, but, from my perspective as the offspring of a very long-time administrator and teacher, that is the way it is with the vast majority of educators.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 7 months ago

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chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

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chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

Sure, charters are the answer if you like schools that are 17% more likely to do better and 43% more likely to do worse and do exactly the same the rest of the time. Charters are also the answer if you like voluntary segregation, want less qualified teachers, want your tax money to fund more corporate welfare, and want to see more fraud and graft in the education system instead of less. Awesome sauce.

But you're right, they do tend to suppress union membership. I guess that's all that matters, right?

Bob Forer 6 years, 7 months ago

So she doesn't know what is expected of her child.

Try this:

Be kind and courteous to others, be respectful of your teachers, pay attention, and try your very best to learn the material.

She needs to quit her complaining and be relieved that she doesn't have to worry now about her child being molested by a perverted priest.

GMom05 6 years, 7 months ago

Perverted priests aside, shouldn't the parents and children know what is expected and how their children are performing? I think this is all a question of how this information is communicated. The teachers are doing the assessments, but how it is explained to the parents is in question. Standards based grading is largely subjective as I understand it. Each teacher can potentially answer the same question differently for the same child. Traditional letter grades are pretty cut and dry. If you get 80 questions correct on a 100 question math test you got a 'B,' not a 'T' or a 'M'. It's an 80%. Is that child making progress (M) or targeted for growth (T) because of that 80%? And is he making progress for that particular point in time or in relation to the end of the year? Maybe he's mastered all the material for that reporting period, but it's still not an E because he hasn't mastered everything he'll be taught before the end of the year. If that child usually get's 60% that's making progress for him, but where does that put him with regards to state standards? Heck, maybe that's an (S) satisfactory grade, I don't know, but in our house, we'd not say 'Good enough, let's watch TV!', we'd be studying a little harder for next week's test. It's a matter of goals and whether or not we want our children to strive for Excellence (which Angelique Kobler, said we would not be doing, because some kids might feel bad, earlier LJW article), or if we just want them to be Satisfactory.

racerx 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure why parents are having such a hissy fit. As the article says, this is the same grading system used for the past 10 years in Lawrence Public Schools. If the 6th graders had not moved to middle school, they would have been evaluated using this same system. The grading system is simply moving with the 6th graders, so it's consistent and should be familiar to both teachers and parents. Teachers who have moved from elementary to middle school have used the system. Perhaps there was not enough training done for middle school teachers who are now working with 6th graders.

If your child was in private school, you have to realize that moving to public school there will be some adjustments. You and your child should be prepared to adapt to different ways of doing things than in your old school.

sickofdummies 6 years, 7 months ago

Actually, there are some inaccuracies in the article. Because they moved the 6th graders to middle school, there were many changes to the method to their schooling. With those changes, keeping the elementary way of grading does not make sense. Its also a mixed message to students, "We want you to grow up and be a bit more responsible, so lets put you in Middle School, but to not hurt your feelings, we'll still treat you like 3rd graders." What is also not mentioned is that this is not exactly the way things were prevously done. Changes are being made all around, 6th grade is just the focus of the article. In 4th and 5th grades this year, they actually removed the letter grades altogether. It seems as if this is the direction they are wanting to take toward 6th grade, and before long 7th and 8th. If you dont understand, research, dont just believe the administration, who is fighting to push their own agenda. The school system is in the business of educating children. The students, and by proxy, their parents are the customer. Instead of thinking about that, or the well being of the students, Kobler and Bodensteiner seem to be taking this as an affront and waging war. While sometimes you have to battle, its important to remember what we're fighting for. In this case, it should be the students education.

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

How is assessing skills while still providing letter grades a means to not hurt their feelings?

sickofdummies 6 years, 7 months ago

The letter grades associated with standards based grading are a reflextion of the E's, S's, M's and T's, versus a grade percentage. It is subjective, with the goal being for everyone to satisfactory meet goals. In traditional grading, there is a huge difference between a C- and an A+. Although a C is a passing grade, it is by no means fantastic. Giving everyone an S is the equivalent of giving everyone a C. No one has to feel bad about only getting a C.

sickofdummies 6 years, 7 months ago

These kids have not really been held accountable before, with standards based grading at the elementary level. I wonder if the fear is that they put them into 6th grade without nearly enough planning. It would look really bad for them to not do well this first year. So, lets just take away standard grading?

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

Really? Do they not have parents or teachers who look into whether or not they do their homework or are learning the subject matter? How are they not held accountable? Didn't they even already get A-F grades in 4th and 5th grade?

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

First off, grades are always subjective, but that aside, the article says that students will receive both letter grades and standards based grades, so you're not giving up one for the other.

tankernav 6 years, 7 months ago

What the article does not tell you is that the teachers are not given any direction on grading. The A, B, C, D does not have any quantative measure associated with it, for example a 90 or better is an A. If we truely were using the system that was in place previously K-6 it would at very LEAST be better than where we are now. There is NO communication about grades or learnign behaviors. How are we to evaluate how our child is doing in school. This is true of both a letter grade or the Standards Based Reporting. Right now we are getting the NO INFORMATION based lack of reporting. This is because Mrs Kobler and USD497 did not tell the parents anything about this till mid September.

Mrs Kobler herself said that Skyward was an important tool that she uses with her sons in keeping track of their grades and progress. Wouldn't it be nice if she afforded us the same courtesy that she herself stated was am important tool.

I wonder how she would feel if she had NO INFORMATION about her childrens progress for the first quarter!

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

Look, even with percentage guidelines for letter grades, they're still totally arbitrary measurements. How much is "class participation" weighted into the final grade? I doubt someone is sitting there with a golf counter taking exact measurements of each student response. Instead, teachers use subjective feels for the students to grade their participation. Or they just count seat time, which doesn't guarantee any sort of learning. Is homework weighed in, and if so, how heavily? A student that aces all the tests gets punished for not doing busywork, while a student who has his mom help him ends up getting boosted with lackluster test scores. Neither measurement is doing the student much good.

Then on top of that, we've got teachers who grade for effort, teachers that offer extra credit, strict graders, easy graders, graders who bump up students close to the next grade, teachers who put a minus on the end to punish someone for not doing as well as that teacher subjectively thinks they could...

sickofdummies 6 years, 7 months ago

Actually, the letter grades that they will be receiving will not be reflecting the traditional letter values. They do not average the grades to come up with a percentage that relates to a letter grade. The letter grades are not based on any number grades at all. They are based on the opinion of the teacher if the student has grown or has sucessfully learned an item. The biggest problem is that there is no measure to determine if the item was learned or not. Yes, all grades are somewhat subjective in the difference between teaching styles and multiple choice v. essay, etc. But these grades are based SOLELY on the teachers opinion. And to answer your previous question, no they are no longer required to grade homework, so they are not being held accountable by the teachers. The system that was designed for parent information was shut down, so that parents are not aware of anything that is going on, so are unable to hold them accountable. Basically, the parents will know nothing, and the students may learn or not, and no one will really know until the time comes when they really are expected to know the material. This is by no means a slam on the wonderful teachers out there. They are being put in the same situation as the parents by the district asking them to implement these policies. It is beneficial to the teachers, too, to have communication with parents and parent involvement.

An interesting point is that I dont know of anyone who is in favor of this change. There are those who are passionately against SBG, and those who dont really understand or care. But I have yet to meet or hear of one person who adamantly supports SBG.

sickofdummies 6 years, 7 months ago

As soon as I wrote it, I realized my mistake. Rich Minder shows his support for the program.

Nikki May 6 years, 7 months ago

And nothing against Rich, and definitely nothing against early childhood education, but Rich does have a background with the preschool age group. Standards based learning is the main thing on a preschooler's progress report: Shares and takes turns, participates willingly in group activities, uses classroom materials appropriately. I expect these things from my 4 and 5 year olds, and in fact make a value judgment on them. (So, agreeing it's not anything to do with a concrete system.) But, these are older kids. I actually have a son with ADHD, so I DO want to know if he is turning in his work, so the standards based would help us. He DOES his work, but does it make it to class and out of his back pack? (maybe kids with an IEP might use standards based grading?)

My daughter is now in 8th grade and I agree that skyward is a great tool. Guess what, she also does her work, but doesn't always turn it in. However, many of the teachers tell the students in the syllabus that late assignments will lose points. Sure enough, there is one in science marked "late 75%". I'd rather see that than an S or a M for who knows how many missing assignments. This is concrete information.

Basically, I back letter grades IF they are based on concrete information.

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

"While sixth-graders in the district still will receive letter grades — just as they would have last year in elementary school — they also will receive grades of E, S, M or T on more than a dozen categories spanning knowledge and learner behaviors, also just as they would have last year."

That says to me that they'll get A, B, C, D, F in addition to the E, S, M, T. Didn't they get that last year? Isn't it the same? How do you know that there's no way to assess whether or not the student has learned something? A simple class observation would be enough for most teachers to figure out if a student has learned some skills, and tests would help them figure out others.

Seriously, I'm trying to get the upset, and the best I can figure is that everyone's upset because they don't feel like they had enough communication. I get that, I do. Sounds like the teachers had the same problem. But now it seems we're playing a game of telephone,.

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

So according to the article, the sixth graders are getting both letter grades and standards grades, just like they did in fifth grade. What are all these people complaining about? Seriously, it sounds like the parent education system is really what is most lacking here.

Jayhawks64 6 years, 7 months ago

Traditional letter grades are based upon averages. The letter grades being assigned in conjunction with SBG are based upon "trends". For example, a student may receive a "C" on his first three tests and a "B" on the fouth test. Instead of averaging the grades, the teacher may assign a "B" for the semester because he is "trending" up. Very subjective and far from "traditional". In fact, teachers are not allowed to use averages. The claim by the district that traditional letter grades will continue to be given is deceptive at best.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 7 months ago

Grades and grade levels are invented abstractions. It matters little what we call them or how they are assigned. The problem, as I see it, is grades supposedly describe the student's level of achievement and accomplishment. This is not always the case. Good discussion of a difficult issue.

Cogito_Ergo_Es 6 years, 7 months ago

Clearly none of you actually have children around middle school age. The district has changed their mind several different times since the school year started and we only hear about it after the fact. It used to be that starting in 4th grade children began receiving letter grades along with their standards based grades. Two days before school started, the teachers were notified that they actually would not be giving out letter grades to 4th or 5th graders, which we were informed of that same night at Parent Night. A little late in the game, but ok. Still no mention of taking letter grades away from 6th graders. Now, fast forward about a week, when we receive our first official communication from the district, which states effective immediately 4th & 5th graders will no longer be receiving letter grades due to the full implementation of the Standards Based Learning System. OH! and if you read the second to last line it says, "The Standards-Based progress report is following grade 6 to the Middle Schools with future plans for implementation at the 7th & 8th grade levels." THIS is what these people are having the so-called 'hissy fit' about. The district just now took traditional letter grades away from our 6th graders with plans to take them from the 7th & 8th graders too! Then last week, we get another letter. What we meant to say was we're going to keep doing what we did before we made them middle schoolers. (I guess that means, we're going to keep grading them like elementary school kids, even though we felt it was important enough to move them to the MS.) They will continue to have both grades. We had access to their gradecards through Skyward part way through the first period, though they were largely not filled out. Then suddenly the gradecards for 6th graders disappeared from Skyward completely. So, again, the parents have no idea what's going on. Reportedly the gradecards will return on October 17th. Still no mention from the district in the second letter regarding 'future plans for implementation at the 7th & 8th grade levels' Though I see they did a fair bit of back pedaling last night! This folks, is what all the uproar is about. Perhaps, you should ask a few more questions if you don't have all the information. Regardless of your feelings on the merits of Standards Based Grading, this district clearly has little regard or respect for parents and families, which shows through their lack of communication or education of the general public about why this change has to happen and has to happen now, on top of all the other changes they are forcing upon us at this time. There was no long range plan here, another thing this district has been guilty of year after year. If so, they could have mentioned it last year and spent time educating the families, and training the teaching staff.

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

So what the real problem seems to be is a lack of communication about how students will be assessed. That, I can understand.

drs331 6 years, 7 months ago

Letters...when did you receive these letters? I haven't seen anything, neither mail nor from school. I also did not hear about the school board meeting last night, and I try to keep an eye on the meeting notices. Maybe my bad for missing, but it doesn't seem to me the district is making much of an effort at communication. The first I learned of the "new grading system" was at parents night at the junior high. It was very clear the the teachers had been told they were not to talk about it with parents. I asked specific questions and they wouldn't answer. Off the record, most teachers I've talked to are outraged at how this is being dictated from the district. No teacher input. No parent input. I like letter grades....simple, clear, objective. But I'm willing to keep an open mind about additional assessment methods. However, if I can't understand what is expected of my child, and have reasonable (non-subjective) indicators of progress or failure (preferably posted on skyward)...then I am no longer a participant in my child's education. That is not an acceptable answer. When is the school board meeting again on this subject? Is there a parents group that is meeting to discuss these issues? Where do I get additional information?

Cogito_Ergo_Es 6 years, 7 months ago

We received two letters, the first curiously dated, "August, 2011", like I couldn't figure out school had already started. Then the latest one last week, similarly dated, "September, 2011." As I have children at both levels, one was addressed to parents of elementary students and the second letter to the Parents of 6th Grade Students. School Board meetings are regularly scheduled on the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month, but you'd have to check the USD 497 website to determine the agenda on any given day. Yes, if you know a teacher personally, ask them their opinion on how this is going so far and where they see it going in the future. I think the MS families were left more in the dark. We only knew about the plan for the 6th, 7th, & 8th graders because of the initial letter sent home to the elementary parents. I am not aware of any organized parent group but if you started one, it looks like you'd have followers! More information? I'd suggest you ask the administrators that put this into practice, Dr. Doll, Kim Bodensteiner, and Angelique Kobler. Their emails are on the district website, Hopefully our school board members are asking them more questions too.

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

Especially since it doesn't apply equally to charters, where we can find a whole lot more failures.

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

That's an awesome idea if vouchers actually did any better than public schools. Turns out they don't. Fail.

billbodiggens 6 years, 7 months ago

This thing is so fouled up on so many levels. These kids are in for a shock when they hit the real world. The real world is not worried about their feelings. The real world only wants results.

But, vouchers? Not even in the ballpark for a solution.

oldbaldguy 6 years, 7 months ago

can you spell clusterf.... Remember when things were simple? You can't blame this on technology. Sounds like really crappy planning and execution by the educators.

chopchop1969 6 years, 7 months ago

The school district during the board meeting showed numerous schools using standards based grading, but did not specify which level it was being used. The district did not show any evidence that standards-based grading showed positive outcomes for graduation rates in these other districts, higher ACT/SAT scores, etc. Where is the research?

Finally, this system was utilized in the elementary schools... 25 students per class. Middle level teachers, around 150 kids to assess. Anyone see a problem here???

Selective_Tourettes 6 years, 5 months ago

A parent called most of the schools districts/schools on that list and found that, IIRC, only two of them were using SBG in the middle school or above levels. One responded with surprise that anyone was trying to implement this above elem. level. Just going by what I remember the parent saying at the Tuesday night meeting.

Reuben Turner 6 years, 7 months ago

well i be...... more solutions and less arguing.

weeslicket 6 years, 7 months ago

well, back to the question at hand here. a real world (i.e., outside of school; in the real world) question:

when was the last time you got a letter grade that evaluated your work? when was the last time your work was evaluated according to "standards of performance"? (bet i know the answer to this one)

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

And how often are those standards of performance tilted to rate most people as "satisfactory" instead of giving everyone a rating of "exceptional?" I know in my real-world experience HR really does discourage a report card full of "E." Just saying.

jackson5 6 years, 7 months ago

Leavenworth piloted this in the mid-1980's. So now we are benchmarking off another district "on improvement" using methods abandoned 25 years ago? Way to embrace best practices, Lawrence board office.

Success 6 years, 7 months ago

The standards based progress report was developed over several years and implemented four or five years ago in the K-6 level. This method of reporting made progress on the following: Linking reports to the standards (skils and knowledge that KS and our district have agreed we want our children to acquire). The new reports communicate to parents and students a more meaningful understanding of what is learned and not learned, what has been covered and not covered during a given reporting period. These reports provide teachers with a meaningful instrument to connect what is expected of them and what is reported.

I celebrate the continued progress in these three areas. The letter grades that my daughter currently brings home from 8th grade give me no indication of what she is learning, what is expected of her and how well she is progressing.

I fail to see how arguments about self esteem have any thing to do with this issue.

sickofdummies 6 years, 7 months ago

Hey Rich, It seems that you have failed to spell skill correctly.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

At a Denver area elementary school, students are organized into classes in an unconventional manner -- they are arranged by what they know, not their age or mandatory grade level.

All Hodgkins Elementary School students learn at their own pace and are grouped together for specific lessons based on their skills in that area, CNN reports.

The school has no grades or grade levels.

This seems like a concept worth exploring.

Kookamooka 6 years, 7 months ago

I shared the example report card with my child the other night just so he would have a good idea of what the teachers will be looking for and grading him on. He was amazed that they were paying attention to certain behaviors. It might not have been a good thing to do to him. Now he's a basket case. least he knows what his grades are made up of.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 7 months ago

"At a Denver area elementary school, students are organized into classes in an unconventional manner -- they are arranged by what they know, not their age or mandatory grade level." ==== Sadly, we have allowed the artificial abstractions of "The 3rd Grade" to cloud our vision so much that we now call a rational arrangement 'unconventional.' We invented much of this model in the post WWII panic when we slapped up cells and bells schools across the country. The old one-room school house model was academically sound in many ways. Perhaps we shouldn't have abandoned it so quickly?

chootspa 6 years, 7 months ago

I think there's a case for abandoning grades and going with pure objectives, but it takes years to implement such a shift. In this political climate, it's unlikely anyone would give schools the time to work out the snags. Look at the hysteria surrounding a shift in grade reporting.

GMom05 6 years, 7 months ago

• S: Successfully meets standards. • M: Making progress. • T: Targeted for growth. • E: Excels consistently. While “E” is the highest rating, it sits at the bottom of the list because the district doesn’t want to foster the expectation that every student should get an “E.” “ ‘S’ is the goal,” Kobler said.

Is that the goal for just the students, or perhaps the teachers, and administrators too? Come on USD 497, we absolutely have had and should have higher goals than this.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Letter grades don't really mean much. Hey look at star athletes who get passing grades to keep them on the field. Frankly each student should be taught at their own pace instead of making education competitive. A slower pace does not = dumb.

Then again Parent/Teacher meetings are a source to discover how students are performing. It was our experience that the same faces were attending these meetings. Teaching staff more or less thought this was in fact true. These conferences are a great opportunity to put forth some quite direct questions regarding performance.

Under a Waldorf system some schools have a one teacher approach. The same instructor follows the students from beginning till graduation of high school. Some public schools have adopted the Waldorf curriculum.

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