Parents of Wichita elementary students will see new progress reports at conferences this fall, which officials say better reflect the district’s transition to Common Core State Standards.
The updated grade cards also include a section that evaluates students in such areas as “demonstrates peaceful conflict resolution” and “follows safety rules,” hallmarks of the district’s new Safe & Civil Schools program.
“It’s been quite a few years since we updated” the progress report, said Alicia Thompson, assistant superintendent for elementary schools.
“As we continue to learn more about the Common Core (Standards) and what it all entails, our goal is to adjust some of our materials so we are in alignment with that.”
At first glance, the new progress reports don’t look much different. Scores range from zero (“unacceptable”) to four (“advanced performance”) in English, math, science and social studies. Teachers assign separate scores for students’ effort in those subject areas.
Writing used to be its own subject area, with subcategories such as ideas and content, organization, voice, word choice and sentence fluency. Now it is a single line – and grade – under the English Language Arts category.
The new report also evaluates a student’s performance and effort in visual arts, music, physical education and “Champs Guidelines for Success,” a section previously labeled “life skills.” Champsis part of Randy Sprick’s Safe & Civil Schools program, a component of Wichita schools’ five-year plan to boost achievement.
Many subcategories on the elementary progress report have changed or been streamlined to reflect new standards, Thompson said.
Before this year, for example, teachers marked students’ progress with an “E,” “M” or “I” (for “exceeds,” “meets” or “improvement needed”) on several science and health categories, including physical science, life science and “healthy ways to express needs, wants and feelings.”
This year’s science section has only two subcategories: science lab skills and science content knowledge.
New language arts and math sections also note whether a student is receiving intervention instruction, aimed at helping students who are below grade level, and how the child is progressing.
Thompson said the changes – the first in more than five years – are subtle but meaningful.
“As a parent myself, as I look over the document, I don’t see anything that was totally changed to the extreme,” she said. “It is a little easier to read, I think.”
She said parent-teacher conferences, being held over the past several weeks at Wichita schools, remain the best way for parents to get an accurate picture of how children are doing in class and to ask questions about any areas of concern.
“What we want is to build a relationship with our parents, to make sure that we are partners with them in their child’s education,” Thompson said.