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District 54 to use standards-based report cards next year

School board also approved trimester grading schedule at meeting

MORRIS – Morris Elementary School District 54 will be phasing in new, standards-based report cards and a trimester grading schedule beginning next school year.

“Going with the standards-based cards is going to provide a more accurate depiction of how the student is doing rather than just assigning a percentage or a letter grade,” said Christopher Maier, District 54 principal. 

The school board voted to approve the two changes during Tuesday’s board meeting. 

The new evaluation system will require teachers to use localized, intimate assessments and have individual conversations with students when determining their grades.

The new cards will no longer include letter grades but will use a 1 through 4 scale to better show a child’s strengths and weaknesses in different skill sets, Maier said. 

“You’re not going to get a grade with standards-based cards. You’re going to get a sense of how your child is developing,” said Superintendent Teri Shaw, before Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s definitely a paradigm shift from the way kids have always been graded.” 

Currently, kindergarten through second-grade students are evaluated on the standards based system, but the district wants to include third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes in the system, as well.

Each grade level will be incorporated one school year at a time with next year marking the inclusion of third grade. Fourth- and fifth-grade students will be phased in at the start of the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school year’s consecutively. 

To compliment the new grading system, the district also will be adopting a trimester grading schedule, meaning students will now be issued report cards three times a year instead of four.

“It doesn’t change our school schedule at all,” Maier said. “It gives our teachers and students more time to demonstrate proficiency. It also gives our teachers more latitude in gathering that information since it is a more data-driven work product.”

Other schools throughout the state are using the standards based system, but District 54 will be the first public school in Morris to make the change. Currently, Immaculate Conception School also uses standards based grading.

“It’s a more progressive outlook on things,” Maier said. “Giving parents more accurate information about how their child is progressing will be the biggest benefit.”

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