Officials at the Natrona County School District are in the early stages of a report card revamp, which — if current plans hold — may include moving away from letter grades and to a more detailed report on student performance for elementary school students.
On Monday, district administrators told school board members that there was wide support among educators across the county to move to a new “standards-based” report card that replaced letters with a 1 to 4 grade scale. A 1 would mean a student was below expectations, a 2 would indicate partially meeting expectations, a 3 would mean the student met expectations, and 4 would signify a student exceeding.
The students would receive a score on several broken-down standards per subject. The number grades would denote how proficient a student was on those particular standards, like adding and subtracting multi-step math problems.
The proposed change would only apply to elementary school students, from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. Already, three elementary schools in the district use the standard-based report card, said Charlotte Gilbar, the district’s executive director for school improvement. A committee of educators, with two parents included, recommended the new report card be adopted districtwide.
Standards are essentially the details of each subject — like math, science or English language arts — that students must be taught.
The new 1 to 4 grading scale would align with how the state judges schools; every school in the state is examined and scored as either not meeting, partially meeting, meeting or exceeding expectations.
Rita Walsh, the board chairwoman, asked Gilbar if parents would understand a new report card that potentially moved away from letter grades and included so much more information.
Gilbar said that “was a big talking point” around the committee that conducted the report card review. She said that depending on how the district proceeds, administrators will have to communicate well with parents.
Board member Debbie McCullar expressed a similar concern.
“These kinds of report cards scare me to death,” she said, adding that she could understand what an A meant. Gilbar said a standards-based report card could still incorporate the letter grades that are familiar to parents and students.
The proposed report card is far from established. Over the next few months, district staff will establish a timeline and work more with parents and staff. Throughout the 2019-20 school year, staff will be trained and parents will be educated about what the new report card will look like, and the (still unknown) new card will be rolled out and implemented at last in the 2020-21 academic year.