New grading system used in report cards | NevadaAppeal.com

New grading system used in report cards

Maggie O'Neill

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Fourth-grade teacher Beth Prause and parent Faye Neihart talk about Neihart's son's essay comparing his father to Sen. John Kerry during the first parent-teacher conference of the year. As part of the conference, new standard-based report cards were issued.

A new report card system officially in use this week in Carson City’s six elementary schools means parents receive the same card no matter what school their student attends.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” said Bordewich-Bray Elementary School Principal Susan Keema. “If families tend to move from one school to another, they don’t have to relearn the whole thing.”

The new reports cards, for kindergartners through sixth-graders, use the numbers 1-4 to show whether students are meeting test standards.

“Letter grading systems compare students to each other,” said Mike Watty, associate superintendent of education services. “In looking at the percent of correct answers on tests, this determines whether the student is proficient in what is being taught.”

A 1 on a report card signifies students are below standards in that area, a 2 means students are approaching standards, a 3 means students are meeting standards and a 4 identifies students who are exceeding standards.

“The deal is the kids understand it,” Keema said. “It’s actually the parents who have gone through the old grade system that need some understanding.”

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The new report cards are being used after three years of research, according to Watty.

“We had more than 20 different report cards being used in our schools,” he said. “We wanted to standardize the report cards so that a parent of a third-grader at Fritsch received the same report card as a parent of a second-grader at Fremont.”

Fourth-grade gifted-and-talented teacher Beth Prause explained the new system to parent Faye Neihart on Thursday during a parent-teacher conference.

“Where a student may have received a C before but met the standards, now they look at (their report card) and they see a 3 and they’ve met the standards,” she said.

Prause was clear to say that an A and a 4 aren’t necessarily equitable.

“The focus is on standards,” she said. “Did they focus on the standards? Do they know how to give supporting details to a main idea?”

Neihart expressed some skepticism about the grading system, saying she prefers letter grades at least in fourth- through sixth-grades. She believes the new system could favor underperforming students.

“When I was in school, it was so much more traditional,” she said. “I don’t know if this is good or bad.”

Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at mo’neill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.