Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Why is the district transitioning to a standards-based reporting system?

In 1999, Pennsylvania adopted a set of academic standards in all subject areas for grades K through 12. These standards have provided the foundation for the development of the district’s curriculum for quite some time. The traditional report card no longer provides parents with enough information regarding their child’s progress towards meeting these grade level standards. Parents are asking for more detailed information about their child’s progress. Administrators and teachers want to provide parents and students with information regarding your individual achievement aligned to these statewide academic standards.

What are standards?

A standards-based report card provides parents with specific information about their child’s achievement relative to each standard. Academic standards are a set of learning goals for each grade level and subject area. These grade specific learning goals identify the content and skills students must achieve by the end of each school year. These standards increase in complexity as students move from one grade level to another. The school district curriculum, aligned to academic standards, is available on the district website. You may also review all K-12 academic standards on the PA Department of Education website at www.pdesas.org . Common core standards can be found at www.corestandards.org

Why are grades not used?

The practice of averaging scores throughout a marking period is a formula that presumes that students must reach mastery of skills early in the school year with little room for error. In addition, grades are often calculated by combining how well the student met a teacher’s expectations, how much effort the student put forth, and how the student is doing in comparison to other students. A letter grade only tells the student and parent how well he or she performed on average in a broad area such as reading or math. A standards-based report card measures how well the individual student is doing in relationship to each grade level standard or learning goal. This gives parents a better understanding of their child’s strengths and weaknesses and encourages all students to do their best.

How is achievement identified on the report card?

Each academic standard listed on the report card will be evaluated as follows: Exceeds the Standard (E); Meeting the Standard (M); Progress toward the Standard (P); and Intensive Progress Needed to Meet the Standard (I). Many of the skills listed on the report card are end-of-year competencies, so it will not be unusual for students to be “progressing towards the standard” at the beginning of the year, with proficiency or beyond by year’s end. Achievement will be reported on a broad range of academic standards in the areas of language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.

How will the teacher assess my child’s progress?

In standards-based classrooms, the focus is on a student’s performance over multiple opportunities, not simply grading and averaging tests and quizzes. Teachers collect evidence of students’ achievement through careful observation, examination of student’s work, discussions, projects, performance tasks, quizzes and tests. Teachers record information about each child’s progress on a frequent basis, analyze and compile this information, and use this data to evaluate a child’s progress towards meeting grade level standards. The district has developed a set of criteria for each standard on the report card. This criteria, in the form of rubrics, will help teachers evaluate the progress of your child’s achievement at each marking period throughout the school year. A student who is identified as “making progress” has achieved appropriate learning and growth at each reporting period.

How is proficiency reported for Chapter 14 special education students, students with 504 Plans and Chapter 16 Gifted Students?

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulate assessment practices for students who are classified with a disability or are in need of specially designed instruction. Special education students must be graded using the same grading system as all other students and their academic program must be aligned to the state’s academic standards. The Individual Education Plan (IEP) team determines, what, if any, accommodations and/or modifications are needed for the student to meet the standards. The IEP team aligns each annual goal to the appropriate standards and monitors progress throughout the school year.

What are learner qualities?

The work habits that students bring to the learning environment are critical to a student’s long-term success. Learner qualities have been divided into two distinct areas: learning behaviors and social behaviors. These are the characteristics of a successful learner. These learner qualities will be assessed separately from the academic standards and will be evaluated as follows: Meeting the Standard (M); Progress toward the Standard (P); and Intensive Progress Needed to Meet the Standard (I). Teachers reinforce these skills with each child, emphasizing the importance of strong work habits and positive social interactions. Most students will meet the standard for learner behaviors early in the school year.

How can parents support their children at home?

A key advantage of the new reporting system is that it provides more specific information to parents in working with their child at home on identified skill areas. The academic standards or learning goals help parents know what their child is working on in school and can provide the basis for conversations at home between parents and their children. This information can be used by parents to support the school’s efforts in educating their child to reach proficiency or to move their child to more advanced levels. The report card serves as one communication device used by teachers to inform parents of their child’s progress. Parents are encouraged to communicate with their child’s teacher as needed. You play a vital role in your child’s academic success.

How will our children be awarded for their academic achievement?

Students will receive academic achievement awards at the end of the school year, based on their growth and progress in specific skill areas throughout the school year.

How will our children’s progress be reported in the areas of library, art, music, and physical education class?

Children will continue to receive a progress report from these specialists using the former grading system.

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