Elementary students’ grades to indicate subject mastery
By Scott Bellile
Parents of Hortonville and Greenville elementary students will receive report cards in early February that principals say will better communicate the key standards children should meet.
Hortonville Area School District recently decided its report cards had included many nonessential learning standards. Teachers collaborated at Hortonville Elementary, Greenville Elementary and North Greenville Elementary to narrow them down to a few “power standards” per subject per grade.
“It’s a philosophy change,” Greenville Elementary School Principal David Harris said. “The bottom line is we want parents to know the important information that they need to know and deserve to know about their children.”
The district’s old report cards, which Harris said were used for more than a decade, ranked a child from one to four on more than a dozen skills in each subject area.
The new progress reports will evaluate whether a child meets just one to five standards in a subject area using the indicators “Not Yet (NY),” “Near Mastery (NM)” and “Mastery (M).”
At the top corner of each course’s page, a “doughnut” similar to a pie graph will display a color visual representation of what percentage of standards that child is meeting. For example, if a child shows mastery in 50 percent of a course’s standards and does not meet the other 50 percent, the doughnut will be half green for “Mastery” and half red for “Not Yet.”
There will also be a space for the teacher to write his or her own comments.
North Greenville Elementary Principal Janna Cochrane said the numerous standards listed on the old report cards fell under “nice to know” rather than “need to know.”
For example, the old second grade language arts report card listed four standards for handwriting alone: “Produces legible writing,” “Forms manuscript letters correctly,” “Forms cursive letters correctly” and “Utilizes adequate spacing.”
Handwriting doesn’t appear on the new card. Cochrane said penmanship remains an important prerequisite to second grade language arts, but more class time is devoted to story comprehension than to how a child writes the letter “A,” for example.
“The main improvement is that we’ll be reporting on only the essential standards,” Cochrane said.
The new report cards covering second quarter should arrive home on Feb. 5, Harris said.