As, Bs and other letter grades are history for elementary students in Dalton Public Schools.
As of this year, academic progress for all Dalton elementary school students is presented on the Standards Based Report Cards system.
Numerical and letter grades are being replaced by the grading system of 1, 2 or 3. A 1 means a child has not reached the standard, 2 means he is progressing towards the standard, and 3 represents that she has mastered the standard.
Six years ago, this reporting method began in kindergarten. It was chosen for two reasons—these students didn’t know any other grading format and could begin with the Standards Based Report Cards with less confusion, and the format would follow them all through elementary school.
Director of School Support Rhonda Hayes said the Standards Based Report Cards method is a much more sophisticated way to grade and evaluate students.
“Standards give you evidence of learning,” Hayes said. “If you got an 80 as a grade before, that doesn’t show what you can do. It just shows you got 80 percent right. You can connect to standards on deeper levels.”
Each grade level has different standards, and new material is introduced every week. The standard for the first week in kindergarten is counting to 25. If a child can count all the way to 25, they will receive a 3, if they get between 10-24, they will get a 2, and they will get a 1 if they can only count to 10.
Westwood kindergarten teacher Susan Jaconetti said she likes the standards grades better because it reports what is actually taught and learned in the classroom.
“As a teacher, it helps me know my kids better,” she said. “I know their strengths and where they need help. It’s easier to teach what they need.”
Amanda Burt, who has three children at Brookwood, said the standards were good because they let her know what her children needed to work on.
“Meeting the standard is a minimum for me,” Burt said. “My expectation is beyond. It lets me know what we need to work on at home.”
Some with experience with both grading methods have expressed a preference for the Standards format. “We’ll have parents or grandparents with kids in two different school systems, and they say they know how to help the child that’s in Dalton Public Schools more,” said Hayes.
One thing that has been the toughest is helping the parents understand what’s going on.
“Most people look at [the report card] and wonder what it means,” Burt said. “Parents aren’t used to that language.”
“Parents are used to ABC for grades,” Jaconetti said. “They’ll say, ‘Where are the As?’”
This year, there will be a new way to help the grading system become very clear for parents and students.
A folder will be sent out that contains the rubric for every quarter—each quarter is color coordinated. It will say what standard is being taught and the grading system for each standard. The parents will see why their child got this grade and exactly what they did on each standard.
Hayes also said that the rubric is always changing for the better.
“Nothing is set in stone,” she said. “We’ll see what worked and what didn’t, and we’ll make the changes over the summer. We’re constantly improving.”
Hayes is unsure if the Standards Based Report Cards system will reach the older grades. Grade point averages are very important in high school and are a big factor in college admission.
Standards Based Report Cards may not fit with the higher grades, but there is one thing Hayes is certain about. “Numbers and averages are misleading,” she said. “You could have a 90, 80, 70; you could dance all over the place. One bad grade can drop an average. Grades don’t tell you the true story, but if you get 1s, then 2s then 3s, you can see that you’re progressing.”
The Kindergarten Rubric for Language Arts for the first term is shown here as an example: Kindergarten Language Arts Rubric-lst Term
By Lindsey Derrick, Dalton Public Schools Contributor