Bellingham School District recently adopted a new report card for the elementary schools. The new report card is standard-based, which means that when a child is given a grade, it is by comparison with a grade-level expectation.
Here is how the academic grades look:
4 = significantly above standard
3 = meeting standard
2 = approaching standard
1 = well below standard
Last week I had a conversation with a friend whose child attends a different Bellingham school from my daughter. She said that she had been happy when her son came home with 3s, but then she heard other parents voicing concern. “What does my child need to do to get a 4?” they wondered.
The answer? Nothing. Remember, these grades are not a percentage of points earned in that subject area or a system of ranking students. They are based on national grade-level standards, and whether the student is meeting them.
Here is an example from my daughter’s 1st grade report card. One category in Reading is called “Foundational Skills.” Here is what a 1st grader is expected to do:
- Understand parts of a sentence
- Understand and break apart and put words together that are heard and spoken
- Read and write words using sounds and patterns
- Read grade level text accurately and fluently
If she can do all of these things, she gets a 3 in “Foundational [Reading] Skills.”.
If she can do all of these things with text significantly above grade level (significantly is considered one year or more above), can talk how she is doing it and can transfer the skills to other areas, she might get a 4.
If she is not quite there yet but is showing progress, she will get a 2. If she needs a lot of support, she might get a 1. (But chances are if she gets a 1, we will long have known about the issues.)
It’s not about what they “need to do.” It’s about where they are developmentally and academically. And where we want them to be is right where they are expected to be in the grade they are in.
We parents grew up in the world of As, Bs, and Cs. These grades were earned by correct spelling tests and math quizzes. They were bolstered up by extra credit. This is not the system of assessment that is used anymore in our district.
It’s hard for all of us to wrap our brains around it, but a 4 is not equal to an A, a 3 is not equal to a B. Your child cannot move from “meeting standard” to “significantly above standard” by doing extra homework.
Celebrate the 3s. They mean your child is right where he or she is supposed to be!