By Leslie Lindsay
Those report cards are out…or coming soon, right? And you’ve got questions. What does an E mean? Is that the new A? And if so, does an F mean a B…that is, if we are going in alphabetical order. But we’re not.
When I was a kid, the grading scale was a bit different. It was something like K thru 2nd grade got S’s and O’s meaning “satisfactory” and “outstanding,” respectively. If you got an “N” you were in deep doo-doo; that meant, “needs improvement.” An “N” was a bad word around our school. By the time students reached 3rd grade and beyond, it was all about the traditional A’s and B’s.
So, how does a parent makes heads or tails of this crazy new grading system? For example, my little nugget (1st grade) came home with some “D’s” and “S’s”. A “D?!!” What…not my kid! But a “D” means “developing.” It’s not exactly “bad,” per se. It’s somewhere in the middle of the grading scale, like a “B” perhaps. An “S” is still satisfactory, there is no “outstanding,” and yes, there are still “N’s.” (We didn’t get any of those).
But here’s the thing: “Is your child working hard? Is she trying her best?” (Remember, not everyone’s best equates to an “A” or “outstanding.”) You can double-check with your child’s teacher on this.
Also, ask to what your child is actually learning. The teacher hopefully is using a standards-based assessment in which she is comparing your child against state-developed guidelines. In fact, if your little scholar is consistently meeting or exceeding those state guidelines, then by all means, ask what the next step is. You’ll want to make sure she is challenged enough, otherwise bored students’ grades start to slip.
Some school districts have adapted the number system for scoring report cards. It may look something like this:
4: Exceeds Expectations
3: Meets Expectations
2: Approaching Expectations
1: Not Meeting Expectations
I don’t know…for me, this still equates to A, B, C, D…but I am not the teacher after all.
How about this alphabet soup of grades?
CS: Consistently Strong
PW: Progressing Well
NI: Needs improvment
WI: Working on it.
And that system–at least in my opinion–gives way too much open, vague space. It’s not concrete enough.
Our 1st grade teacher sent home a letter about receiving report cards and it went something like this, “This is just a snapshot of me…it has been developing over the last few months…I have lots of different moods, interests, and it’s not about me being better or worse than other students…please do not compare me with them….don’t push me to do something beyond my ability…just know that I do my best.”
(This blog was inspired by an article in Parenting School Age, November 2011. Grading System notes came directly from this article, “What Your Kid’s Report Card Really Says,” by Linda Rogers).