Los Lunas parents, students to see new grading system

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Parents of kindergarten through third-grade students in the Los Lunas School District can expect to see a different type of report card today due to the implementation of Common Core State Standards.

The New Mexico Public Education Department required that CCSS be implemented in kindergarten through third grade this year, and fourth through 12th grades next year.

New Mexico is one of 46 states to adopt the Common Core State Standards initiative, a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators and experts to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare U.S. students for college and the workforce.

The New Mexico CCSS are a different approach to learning, teaching and testing that engenders a deeper understanding of critical concepts and the practical application of that knowledge, said Julie Smith, director of curriculum.

While traditional grading has averaged all the work a student has done over a nine week period, semester and end of year, the CCSS grading system does not average a student's work.

Instead, it measures a student's knowledge of grade-level content over time by reporting the most recent, consistent level of performance and level of proficiency.

"Standards-based grading tells us what students have actually learned and are able to do," Smith said.

"So, a student might struggle in the beginning of a course with new content, but then learn and demonstrate proficient performance by the end of the school year," she said. "We're not expecting our students to be proficient the first time they are introduced to the material or the skills, but the goal is by the end of the year, the student will be proficient in the standards."

Some of the skills taught to students in kindergarten aren't expected to be mastered until the next grade, she said.

Many of the skills are built upon each year at each grade level, with expected milestones each year.

The new report cards are two pages longer, and have a CCSS based numerical grading system of 1, 2, 3 or 4, shown in the right-hand column.

The document has every standard in language arts and math listed. Numerical grade 1 reflects beginning steps, a number 2 grade means nearing proficiency, 3 is proficient and 4 means advanced.

"We're calling it a transition report card, because we're transitioning into the Common Core State Standards," said Smith. "We're starting with all the standards, and then through parent and teacher input, we'll chisel it down into a more — I hate to say a smaller document, because parents may like the way it's set up right now …

"It looks like a lot right now, but in this first year of implementation, we wanted to make sure teachers and parents really understood what the Common Core State Standards are."

A parent's guide to the new report card is included with the card to help them understand the new grading system report.

Science, social studies, physical education, art and music are graded the same as before, Smith said.

By the end of the school year, each standard will have a mark in at least one of the grading periods. Not all of the standards are taught and assessed every nine weeks, she said.

Common Core Standards are end of year standards, each grade level standard reflects what a student should know and be able to do by the end of the school year.

Some standards in the primary grades don't expect mastery until the next school year.

In June, a committee will review feedback from parents and staff in order to make improvements to the report cards for the next school year.

For more information about the Common Core State Standards, visit the district website at www.llschools.net.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.