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Developing system

Creston School Board passes new report card system

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 11:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 12:25 p.m. CDT
A Creston Elementary School student plays a game and practices math skills at the same time during the school's math night April 11.

No more As and Bs for junior-kindergarten through fifth-grade math. Instead, Creston Community School District is implementing a new grading system for quarterly report cards based on student development.

“We were going down the road of standards-based reporting, where we report out the student’s progress in relationship to the standards in Iowa Core instead of just a letter grade,” said Callie Anderson, Creston pre-kindergarten to second-grade principal.

The system, which was being developed since 2012, will be used for the 2013-14 school year only in math as a test run before the board makes the decision to use the system for the entire school district.

“It’s easy to communicate to parents because it’s an Iowa Core standard that says, ‘Can your child add and subtract?’ If they can add, that’s fantastic. If they have trouble subtracting, then you can put it in terms of developing,” said Pat Rabbitt, Creston fifth-grade teacher.

Rubrics of the new math grading system are available on Creston Community School District’s website, and are organized by grade level.

New system

Math’s new grading system looks at a student’s educational development, and whether or not the student is secure in learning certain areas of math.

“We’re not changing the entire report card,” Anderson said. “We are just adding this section in math. ... We wanted to start with just one content area and fine-tune it before we move on to other areas.”

The grading scale runs from “needs continuous support” to “secure,” and there is a key on the report card for parents to know what each letter or mark means.

“That’s the difficult piece,” said Brad Baker, Creston Middle School principal. “The public and parents will have difficulty. They’re automatically going to want to associate something to an A, B, C or D. We’re trying to get away from that to really show where the student’s at.”

On the card, there are certain areas a student should be fluent in, and those areas will each have a grade after them.

For example, “count to 120, starting at any number less than 12” and “tell and write time in hours and half-hours” are two standards a first-grade student has to be secure in.

“They (parents) are going to have a hard time making that jump,” Anderson said. “That’s why we started with one area. We need to fine-tune it. We need to get them used to the process.”

Old system

The old system is a familiar one. It focuses on a percentage grade in each subject, and for certain percentage markers, the student receives a letter grade. For example, 93 to 100 percent is equivalent to an A and 83 to 92 percent is equivalent to a B.

Grades could also be weighted, so one part of classwork might make up more of the final grade than another. For example, daily homework might be 45 percent of the final grade, quizzes might be 25 percent and tests might be 30 percent.

The grades in the percentage-based grading are not broken up to see where students struggle or succeed.

In other school board news:

• The school board passed a motion to sell the former administration building, located at 619 N. Maple St., at auction, and went into closed session to discuss a minimum price.

• Key performance targets for the superintendent position were discussed, and board members passed goals that were high priorities to them.

• The board made school climate, minimum growth areas and technology in the schools top priorities for the 2013-14 school year, and discussed the district’s mission statement after a district survey was returned to administrators with comments on district goals.

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