Report cards change in Roaring Fork
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Art teacher Libby McNeill tapped away at one of the blueberry-colored iMacs at Sopris Elementary School Tuesday afternoon.
McNeill was finishing up one of the classic teacher tasks: filling out report cards.
But for McNeill, and every elementary and middle school teacher in the Roaring Fork School District, grading has taken on two major changes – it’s being done electronically, and there’s not an A, B, C, D or F in sight.
In what’s called standards-based grading, gone are traditional letter grades. Instead, students are graded using a numbered system.
A “1” means the student has not yet demonstrated proficiency. A “2” means the student is partially proficient, a “3” means the student consistently demonstrates proficiency, and a “4” means the student is not only proficient but applies the skill or content area to new skills or knowledge.
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At Sopris Elementary, students receive grades in seven subject areas, such as writing, reading, math and art. Those subjects are broken down into specific skills that the child must master before he or she can progress to the next skill, and kids get number grades for every skill.
What’s so different?
Sopris Elementary principal Howard Jay explained that standards-based grading helps keep students from falling behind, and allows for students who are demonstrating proficiency to move forward at their own pace.
For example, Jay said, with traditional grading a student might receive a passing grade based upon his behavior.
“The student might not say much in class, and get a passing grade because he’s quiet,” Jay said. “But that letter grade doesn’t necessarily indicate whether or not he has mastered a certain content area.”