School board to consider new report card test in Danville

School board to consider new report card test in Danville

DANVILLE — Danville schools' youngest students could be taking home a new and improved report card starting next school year.

School board members on Wednesday will vote on whether to pilot new standards-based report cards for kindergartners through second-graders for the 2012-13 year.

The Danville school board will meet at 6:45 p.m on Wednesday at the Jackson Building, 516 N. Jackson St., Danville. A copy of the agenda is available online at http://bit.ly/KmNAxf.

The new report cards — recommended in the district's long-term strategic plan — aim to provide students, parents and teachers with a much more detailed look at how the students are mastering the specific content areas, or skills, in English/language arts and math that they're expected to know at their grade level.

Curriculum coordinator Kim Norton said the report cards are aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which will be used to measure academic achievement.

"We want to make sure our students are meeting these more rigorous and in-depth standards, and this will provide specific feedback on their progress," said Norton, who worked on the report cards with special education director John Hart.

On their current quarterly report cards, K-2 students receive a letter or effort rating denoting their achievement level in English/language arts and math. An "E" means excellent, "S" means satisfactory, "N" means needs improvement and "U" means unsatisfactory.

The new cards list each content area that students are expected to know in those subjects. For example, kindergartners should know how to recognize and name all upper- and lower-case letters in language arts, and understand the quantity or value of a number in math.

First-graders should write a complete sentence with capitalization and punctuation, and identify, classify and describe common geometric figures. And second-graders should be able to compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic, and solve word problems involving adding and subtracting amounts of money.

Instead of a letter rating, students would receive a number rating denoting their achievement level in each content area. Four means exceeds standard, 3 means meets standard, 2 means approaching and 1 means below.

So, if students receive a 3 or 4, it shows they are on track and meeting or exceeding the learning benchmark. If they receive a 1 or 2, it means they haven't met the benchmark and need more help in that area at school and home.

Norton said the more in-depth report cards will better ensure that everyone focuses on the standards from the beginning of the school year. They also will better ensure more consistency of the expectations from teacher to teacher and that students who fall behind will be identified and get help sooner.

Norton said K-2 students still would receive effort ratings for science, social studies, art, music and physical education. They also still would receive "skills for success" marks for behavior, cooperation and respect.

Superintendent Mark Denman said K-2 teachers will have a year to use the new system and tweak it, if necessary. He added officials are developing standards-based report cards for higher grade levels and plan to roll those out periodically in the future.

Also at the meeting, board members will vote on whether to approve an elementary school parent pledge. Under the pledge, parents and guardians would commit to volunteering at least five hours at their child's school, reading and studying with their child for 15 minutes each night and signing their children's assignment folder or agenda book each night.

"This is not meant to be punitive," Denman said, adding the pledge also was recommended in the strategic plan. "We just want to encourage parent involvement."

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