Sunday, March 16, 2008

Report Cards Go Home - Monday, March 17

Spring report cards will be distributed at the end of the day on Monday, March 17. The reports give a spring snapshot of achievement for parents to see where students are currently performing. We hope the information will be helpful to parents. Of course, if you have questions after looking it over, please call your child's teacher. In all cases, I encourage parents to talk with their children about their learning, to praise their child's progress and encourage them to keep focused on what they need to do to learn each day.

In addition, here are a few typical questions and answers about report cards:
Q1: How do I know what my child is expected to know and be able to do at their grade level?
A1: Please refer to the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations on the Michigan Department of Education website. These are used and reviewed periodically by the curriculum coordinators in Ann Arbor to determine appropriate curriculum for each grade.

Q2: Why doesn’t my child get letter grades (A, B, C, etc.) on his/her report cards in Ann Arbor?
A2: Letter grades are a form of grading many parents are familiar with as part of their own educational experience. Grades as a form of grading are often subjective and do not necessarily reflect what a child knows or what they need to focus on next. Using the concepts reflected in the GLCEs, more of a “standard” can be applied to teaching and learning for students. With the GLCEs, MLK School and the Ann Arbor Public Schools have established clear targets that reflect what the State of Michigan believes children should know and learn at a particular grade level.

When you receive your child’s report card, you’ll see reading and writing growth is measured in terms of continuous progress, which you might hear your child’s teacher call “the continuum.” This continuum shows which outcomes a child is currently achieving, which outcomes they have already achieved, and which outcomes they’ll be focusing on next in their learning. Sometimes an outcome on the continuum is achieved quickly and other times mastery requires additional practice and time. Using this assessment information, teachers are better able to meet the individual needs of students wherever they fall along the continuum of skills.

Q3: How do teachers determine a child’s reading level?
A3: Periodically each student participates in a “running record” with their teacher. During a running record, the teacher listens to a child read and asks the child questions about the reading. Afterward, the information gathered during the running record is analyzed to determine a child’s current level of performance. The analysis includes information about the child's accuracy and comprehension of what they are reading, and it is used to determine if the child's current instructional reading level is too easy, just right, or too difficult. In a nutshell, the running record gives information about what a child needs to work on next to become a more proficient reader.

Q4: I noticed my second grader (for example) is not yet achieving some of the outcomes for second grade. Should I be concerned?
A4: The outcomes represent end of the year targets, so at this point in the year it is not always concerning. If you are concerned or have a question, please contact your child’s teacher.