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June 12. 2014 9:32PM

Nashua schools will pilot new grading system next fall

NASHUA — The school district is overhauling its elementary school grading system and report cards to better reflect student progress toward meeting academic standards.

In September, teachers will begin a pilot program with different elementary school classes to replace numerical grades and S’s for satisfactory and N’s for needs improvement with a new group of letters that chart a child’s progress and numbers that rate their learning behaviors.

The new reports cards are designed to give parents and future teachers more detailed information about each child’s academic growth.

According to Assistant Superintendent Karen Crebase, the intent is to implement the new grading system for all students at the start of the 2015-16 school year, although no final decisions have been made yet. Teachers and administrators want to first see how well the pilot program works.

Crebase and a team of teachers who developed the new report cards presented an overview of the changes to the Board of Education’s Curriculum and Evaluation Committee this week.

“The focus is on skills instead of scores and points on a test,” Crebase said.

Unlike the current report cards that assess a student’s performance during a specific quarter of the school year, the new system will show where a child stands in relation to the end-of-the-year standards and expectations for that grade. The new grades will be M, or meets the end of grade level standard; P for progressing to that standard; B for beginning to progress; and N for not yet demonstrating progress.

And the new report cards will have more grades in specific areas. Currently, second-grade teachers measure a child’s performance in math with numerical grades in six areas.With the new system, children will receive up to 15 different math grades, or performance indicators, in areas such as adds two one-digit numbers from memory, understands the values of ones, tens and hundreds and represents and interprets data using graphs.

The section of current report cards used to assess behavior and work habits will also be redesigned and expanded. Children will still be graded on their ability to listen attentively, follow rules and work independently.

Crebase said one of the biggest changes is that elementary schools plan to move to a trimester schedule, although next year, during the pilot program, teachers will stick with quarterly report cards.

btaormina@newstote.com


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