Thursday, November 18, 2010

Report Cards: Questions and Answers

Report cards were distributed to students on Wednesday, November 17.

Q1: How do I know what my child is expected to know and be able to do at their grade level?
A1: The State of Michigan's Department of Education sets the standards for what students in each grade should know and be able to do. They call these standards Grade Level Content Expectations or GLCEs for short. School districts in Michigan--including the Ann Arbor Public Schools--use the GLCEs to guide what curriculum is taught at each grade level. For example, the third grade math GLCEs say that students should be able to "Use multiplication and division fact families to understand the inverse relationship of these two operations, e.g., because 3 x 8 = 24, we know that 24 ÷ 8 = 3 or 24 ÷ 3 = 8; express a multiplication statement as an equivalent division statement"; because of this, these concepts are taught in third grade with multiple experiences throughout the year. You can download copies of the GLCEs here or if you need a hard copy, please call your child's teacher or the school office.

Q2: Why doesn’t my child get letter grades (A, B, C, etc.) on 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 and the associated Ann Arbor curriculum, King 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. This is marked for each student by teachers and reported to parents in November, March and June of each school year. Using this assessment information, teachers are better able to meet the individual needs of students wherever they fall along the continuum of skillfulness.

Q3: How do teachers determine a child’s reading level?
A3: Periodically each student in class 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 their reading. Afterward, the information gathered during the running record can be analyzed to determine a child’s current level of performance. It also gives information about what a child needs to work on 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.