2010-10-15 / Front Page

Primary School Report Cards Revised

By Stephanie Petrellese

Beginning in December, students in the three primary schools, Hemlock, Homestead and Locust, will receive a more comprehensive report card that will indicate a child’s performance level and effort.

“The parents in this community are so wonderful that they want to see how we can best help our child, our children, and help them grow as learners,” said Audrey Bellovin, Hemlock School principal. She gave a presentation along with Dr. Suzanne Viscovich, Homestead School principal, at the October 13th Garden City Board of Education work session.

Revising the report cards at the primary school level was one of the goals established by Superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen over 18 months ago. Since that time, a committee comprised of teachers, parents and administrators from all three schools worked toward that end by collecting and analyzing report card samples from comparative districts. They examined one subject area at a time and thoroughly discuss proposed changes.

“It makes assessing student progress a little bit easier because we all have a common standard, and a well-defined standard that we’re committed to,” said Dr. Feirsen. “It tends to even out the playing field across grade levels and across the school district.” Parents can be reassured that a student at Hemlock is being evaluated by the same criteria as a student at Homestead and Locust.

He said the new report cards also tells faculty what the school district expects students to master on a much more specific level. Vague wording has been replaced with finite expectations.

Committee members also examined New York State standards and created a framework that identifies performance levels, as well as effort. The report cards will coincide with the district’s curriculum guide, which was distributed to all parents at Back to School Night, and which can also be found on the district’s Web site.

The levels of performance indicated on the current report card are “proficient,” “developing” and “beginning.” On the proposed new report card, performance levels on a first-grade will be labeled “below the standards,” “approaching the standards,” “meeting the standards,” and “exceeding the standards.” A new category focusing on effort has also been added. A child can receive I for improvement needed, G for good and E for excellent.

The number of skills listed under Mathematics has been doubled from four to eight. English/Language Arts has also been greatly expanded. The current report card has listings for reading, writing and speaking & listening, as well as random skills with no description such as comprehension strategies, print awareness and motivation to read. The new card will report on reading, writing, listening and speaking.

A four-level rubric has been developed which looks at literacy as a continuum and not as a random set of skills. Level 1 will indicate an Emergent reader; Level 2 will indicate an Early Beginner; Level 3 will indicate an Advanced Beginner; and Level 4 will indicate an Early Independent reader.

On the current report card at the kindergarten level, science and social studies were not reported, although they are a part of the curriculum. The new report card will specifically address skills needed in these subjects. Under science, for example, the card will include: uses inquiry and observation skills to generate hypothesis; applies skills by gathering, classifying, measuring and recording data; interprets data and draws logical conclusions; and communicates ideas using scientific vocabulary.

For art, music, library and physical education, the current card just notes whether the child participated and gives no clear picture of what should be accomplished in each area. The new report card will offer more specific information about the skills that should be developed. For example, in art, the card will include: demonstrates understanding of grade level art concepts (including shapes, colors, lines, composition, aesthetics and judgment; and uses art materials appropriately.

The school psychologists also worked with the committee to expand upon two other categories, personal growth and work habits, which are found on the current report card. The new report card, at the first grade level, will feature “social and emotional development,” and include behaviors that promote learning, as well as behaviors exhibited outside the classroom setting.

The committee will present and explain the new report card at both daytime and evening PTA meetings at the primary schools, as well as at a joint PTA meeting scheduled for Oct. 27. A staff development meeting will also be held on that date so that faculty can become more familiar with the new system.

Report cards will now be distributed three times during the year instead of two. Students will receive their first report card on Dec. 10. Dr. Feirsen said report cards at the elementary school level will now be revised.

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