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Clark-Pleasant aims for detailed progress reports

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Today, when fifth-graders at Clark-Pleasant schools receive a B on a math test, that tells their families they answered most of the test questions correctly, but school officials want to also show them what the youngsters still need to learn.

Parents can still expect to see the traditional A, B and C grades on students’ report cards, but over the next several years school officials want to add to them. That likely will include creating more detailed grade reports and a numbered grading scale running from zero to four, showing students and their parents which math, English and other lessons they have and have not learned, director of curriculum and instruction Cameron Rains said.

For example, when students get a B on a math test, their families can see that they understand how to multiply one- and two-digit numbers, but before they’ll be considered at grade level they need help learning to multiply three-digit numbers, Rains said.

“This gets (students) focused on their achievement, this is what I have to do to improve my learning. The feedback we’re able to give students is much more impactful,” Rains said.

Schools have started creating the new grading scales and more detailed grade reports and are beginning to use them in kindergarten through fourth grade. Teachers also are creating similar grading scales and reports for fifth through 12th grade. He said some may be ready to use next school year, but teachers need time to create more detailed reports for higher grades.

Teachers at all Clark-Pleasant schools already meet throughout the school year to ensure that students are learning the same lessons at each building and that they’re being prepared for what they’ll be taught in the following grade. Rains said teachers now also are creating checklists of lessons that students need to have mastered before they’re considered ready to move on to the next grade.

So students taking world history at Whiteland Community High School might receive an 80 percent on their midterm, but they also would also receive more detailed, individualized feedback on whether they need help mastering certain lessons, whether they’re on track to understand all of the course’s concepts on time or whether they’re working ahead of their classmates. Rains said that’s more valuable to students and families than a letter grade or a percent that otherwise has no context.

“If you’re able to show them where they are and what the next step is, they’re able to see what they need to work on,” Rains said.

Eventually school officials will consider whether to update how they teach students who are working ahead of their classmates.

Right now, students with the potential to work ahead of their peers might be given more challenging assignments, but both sets of students remain in the same classroom. Rains said school officials could consider moving advanced students to classrooms in higher grades during lessons where they’re ahead.

But the decision about whether to move those students is likely several years away. First school officials would need to meet with parents and teachers to get their feedback, he said.

New approach

What happens now?

On tests and report cards, most students receive a grade of A through F or a percentage of questions that were correctly answered.

What’s changing?

The school district is working to create more detailed grade reports, as well as a numbered grading scale. This wouldn’t replace A-F but would give students and their parents more detailed feedback about what the students do and don’t understand.

What are teachers doing?

Clark-Pleasant’s teachers are working to identify the lessons they want to be sure students master before the end of the school year. These are the lessons that will be used in the updated grade reports and scales.

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