Thursday, June 22, 2000

Young ones also get letter grades

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MASON — Report cards for students in kindergarten through grade 6 in the Mason City Schools are going to look more like those for middle and high school students this fall.

        The Mason Board of Education recently approved a change that was recommended by a committee that has been studying the matter for a year. The new format will be implemented in all schools for the upcoming school year.

        “What we found is that parents want letter grades. They want consistency,” said Sue Livingston, a committee member and elementary language arts curriculum leader. “This system phases in letter grades.”

        Many parents said they didn't quite understand the old system that included narratives written by teachers along with a skill check-off section, said Ms. Livingston of the committee's research.

        Kindergarten and first-grade students won't get letter grades but will get a sheet with very specific skills the students are working on, said Barbara Crist, assistant superintendent. A plus mark will indicate consistent mastery of the skill, a check mark will indicate progress, and a minus will indicate difficulty, as well as the teacher's concern. Narratives will be limited to interim reports parents receive midway through the grading period.

        Letter grades in reading and math only will begin in the second grade, with social studies and science added for third- and fourth-graders, Mrs. Crist said. Parents also will see very specific skills listed under each subject area. Students will receive a plus, check mark or minus for each skill that is included in the subject.

        “They (parents) wanted to know where their students were in relation to the grade level (expectations). This should clearly communicate to parents where their child stands and also what areas they are weak or strong in,” Mrs. Crist said.

        “I think parents will get the same amount of information. It will tell parents, for example, if their child is reading, is comprehending what he reads, if he needs work on quizzes and tests, if they can organize their thoughts.”

        Parents will be informed of the changes through meetings, open houses, letters and parent-teacher conferences.


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- Young ones also get letter grades