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Dear Parent and Guardians,
Over the last four years, Dr. Deborah Pennell, Principal of Ardena Elementary School, and Mr. Joseph Isola, Assistant Superintendent, chaired a standards-based report card committee. Mrs. Dheranie Suarez, vice-principal at Middle School South, joined the team last year. Throughout the four years, a team of educators including administrators, supervisors, classroom teachers, special area teachers, and parents continuously met to discuss our current reporting system and ways to improve. After their in-depth analysis of best practices for reporting student achievement the committee determined that a standards-based report card would provide both the students and their parents specific information about how they are doing and pinpoint specifically areas in need of improvement.
On many traditional report cards, students receive one grade for reading, one for math, one for science and so on. On the standards-based report card that you will be receiving on December 14th, March 22nd, and June 20th, each of these subject areas are divided into a list of skills and knowledge that students are responsible for learning. The new report card that you will receive is aligned and based directly on the National Standards as well as the New Jersey Curriculum Content Standards (NJCCCS). A standards-based report card lists the most important skills students should learn in each subject at a particular grade level. Students receive a separate mark for each standard taught during the marking period.
The marks on a standards-based report card will indicate how well your child has mastered the grade-level standards. One of the biggest adjustments for students and parents will be that many standards-based report cards focus on end-of-the-year goals. This means that in the first or second grading period, instead of getting A's for trying hard and doing well on tests, a high-achieving student might have several marks indicating that he/she is not yet proficient in some skills. Although this is normal since most students will not meet all of the year's goals in the first quarter, it can be disconcerting to parents and students used to seeing all “A's” or “B's.”
Another big change for students is understanding the concept of "Expands Grade Level Standards" or "Meets Grade Level Standards." Expands is not necessarily the equivalent of an A on a traditional report card. For example, if a fifth grader received “A's” on every math test during the semester, he/she would probably receive an “A” on a traditional report card. If those math tests measured only the concepts fifth graders are expected to master, those “A's” would be the equivalent of "Meets" on a standards-based report card; the student is doing what he should be doing, but not necessarily more.
Standards-based report cards provide the added 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’s most needed, sooner rather than later.
On many traditional report cards, students receive one grade for reading, one for math, one for science and so on. On the standards-based report card that you will be receiving on December 14th, March 22nd, and June 20th, academic achievement in the form of a letter grade will continue. However, initiative and behaviors that support learning will be reported separately as a rubric with a 4, 3, 2, or 1. Additionally, under each of these subject areas will be a list of skills and knowledge that students learned during the specific marking period. The new report card that you will receive is aligned and based directly on the National Standards as well as the New Jersey Curriculum Content Standards (NJCCCS). A standards-based report card lists the most important skills students learned in each subject at a particular grade level.
It is the hope of the committee that this new form of reporting will make the standards very clear to parents.