GROTON -- Groton-Dunstable Regional School District officials, parents and School Committee members Wednesday were forewarned of a change in the way the district issues report cards which will alter their frequency and how they measure a student's progress.
Parents can no longer expect the traditional A, B, C system of report-card grading in which the average of how students performed in numeric-based testing is determined. Instead a new system using the letters M, P, I will be used.
The new lettering, Meets the standard, Progressing toward the standard, and Making insufficient progress toward the standard, will focus instead on students' "skills, progress and capability levels."
"Traditional grading (A, B, C) is more subjective, based on the assignments given by the individual teacher rather than progress towards the identified standard," states presentation material prepared for the School Committee.
Scoring on a scale of 0 to 100 upon which the A, B, C, system had traditionally been based has been determined to be too literal, not allowing room for teachers to detail the full range of a student's progress.
The new report card is a system geared to the state's common-core standards for education which the district has already adopted. The system will include report cards being issued three times a year.
"This is the big change, the frame of reference," said interim Superintendent of Schools Anthony Bent.
"It's definitely much more specific," said Liz Garden, who explained the new system to the committee members at the meeting.
The new standards-based reporting system is a new initiative by the district that comes on the heels of its adoption of the state's common core standards, added teaching, learning, and accountability director Kerry Clery.
"They're all so incredibly connected," said Clery.
School administrators, said Clery, began preparing last year to make the transfer from the district's traditional teaching and grading system to the new model.
"We came to a template that seems to work," said Clery who, nevertheless, solicited input from parents on what they think about the new system.
Under the new grading system, instead of being delighted to see their student getting an A in a particular subject (or in numerical terms, a grade within the 90th percentile), parents for instance, will see an "M" which indicates that their child "demonstrates thorough understanding of concepts and skills." Under "P," a student will have demonstrated an understanding of basic concepts and skills, and under "I," to have made "minimal progress towards the grade level standard."
There will be no specific grade if a child simply fails.
The new report cards will also attempt to separate individual student achievement from work habits with skills being awarded a check mark and failure to measure up simply going without any indication of progress.
Educators hope that under the new standards based report card system, more "specific, rich, quality" information on a student's progress is communicated to parents.
The new system will also save time for teachers so that they can devote more of it to "informal assessment" and have "more information about individual learners readily available."
The first trimester based, standards driven report cards will be issued by the district's elementary schools on Dec. 7.
For more information about the new system, parents are advised to visit the district's website at www.gdrsd.org