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POSTED: June 24, 2013 8:46 a.m.

Parents of students in Liberty County elementary schools no longer will find an alphabetical scale on their children’s report cards this fall.
The board of education earlier this month adopted code-of-conduct language that allows the elementary schools to transition from the classic A,B,C-based accountability measure to a modern numerical scale in line with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards.
The board first heard about the change in a May meeting, where they expressed skepticism about the idea.
Curriculum specialist Susan Norce presented an overview of the shift, however, during a May 28 work session.
“For a couple years now, we’ve talked about moving to a standards-based report card,” Norce said. “We’ve had them in kindergarten going on about eight years now.”
Kindergartners moved to the system about eight years ago when the state moved to Georgia Performance Standards. The 2012-13 year marked another shift in curriculum, with the state moving to Common Core.  
“When we moved to Common Core this year, we found it evident that our grading system doesn’t match the expectation of what we’re asking the children to do in the classroom,” Norce said.
Instead of grading students on a scale from zero to 100, the system will create scales that reflect whether students are “below standard, approaching standard, meets standard and exceeds standard.”
One is below standard and four exceeds it.
Norce said research indicates grade inflation occurs at high rates when grades are expressed as a percentage, especially when extra-credit opportunities are added to supplement students’ performance.  
“And really what we’re getting is a number that doesn’t show us what the kids really know. …,” Norce said. “When you look at the research, it’s really very arbitrary.”
Under the plan, students will receive five common assessments for each subject every nine weeks, and they will be graded on the four-point scale.
The same rubric on a one-through-four scale also will be used for in-class assignments, and students will be asked to keep portfolios that demonstrate their progression throughout the grading period and each year.
Norce added that most school districts use standards-based report cards at the elementary level.
Lyman Hall Elementary School Principal Claire Blanchard added several teachers have been involved with the transition process.
“My teachers really like this new report card,” she said. “They’re really wanting to do this, and that’s what I’m hearing from the rest of the members of our committee.
“When we get a standards-based report card, which is a lot of times now, we know exactly where they stand. When you get ‘social studies he got a 70,’ that doesn’t tell us anything. What did he learn in social studies?”
The standards-based reports illustrate what topics the student covered and how he or she performed, rather than issuing a number with a subject name.
Board member Carolyn Smith Carter asked Norce whether she had statistics related to the number of districts that use standards-based report cards, and Norce said she was not aware of quantitative reports but could provide research in support of the cards.
During the June 11 meeting, the board adopted a change to honor-roll criteria for the code of conduct.
For students in grades one through five to earn honor-roll status, they must earn at least four fours and no more than one three, with no ones or twos and an excellent or satisfactory in citizenship, with no N’s or U’s in any area.

 

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