Sunday, October 2, 2011

Standards-Based Report Card Basics

In the next four weeks, parents and community members can expect information and tutorials regarding the new standards-based report (SBR) cards. I met with the Parent-Teacher groups for Libertyville and Washington elementary schools this week to get input about how to share this information with families prior to Parent-Teacher Conferences in early November. I decided that my blog post this week would highlight some SBR basics.

To help you understand the SBRs, you will receive 3 key documents: A parent's guide to performance levels, a SBR menu, and the actual report card. Let's look at how each of these documents assist in communicating what a child knows and can do.

The Performance Level Guide: This document will be mailed to each household next week. Key components will include a list of all of the content area "subjects" that will be on each report card. For example, the subject of mathematics will have subcategories for number and operations, geometry and measurement, algebra, and data analysis and probability. For each of these four categories, students will receive a 1-5 performance level. A performance level of 3 means that the student is performing at grade-level mastery. The biggest caution for parents is that the performance levels do not translate into the traditional letter grades. A "5" does not equal an "A," for example.

The SBR Grade-Level Menu: This is a large menu of each content standard and it's supporting grade-level benchmarks. So, going back to the math example, under each of the four categories, are several benchmarks which will be assessed at various points during the school year. Teachers have "sequenced" the benchmarks to designate which ones will be assessed and reported on each quarter. One thing that the parent groups emphasized was the importance of understanding how the performance level may change from quarter to quarter, because different benchmarks are reflected within the different subject categories. A child may receive a performance level of a "4" in geometry on the first quarter report card, but may get a "3" on the second quarter report card when different benchmarks are being assessed.

The Standards-Based Report Card: This will be a summary of all of the subject categories (listed on the Performance Level Guide) with a 1-5 performance level. The benchmarks are not listed on the actual report card.

It is my hope to make the menus and report cards available to families prior to conferences. This will allow parents to review the report cards prior to conversations with teachers.

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