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Henry's new elementary school report cards

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Elementary school students in Henry County will be taking home some non-traditional report cards this year.

The Henry County Board of Education is changing the way it records student progress by creating standards-based report cards. The reports will eventually replace the traditional, six-week report card in Henry's kindergarten-fifth grade classes.

Last December, school administrators met to discuss changing the report-card system to include more details about what skills students should be mastering in school.

Henry County Schools Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator Raymond Bryant said the new report card was adopted to more specifically address how well students are progressing toward mastering the new Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) curriculum. "The change to a standards-based report card comes from the understanding that our current report card does not fully communicate what students are expected to know and be able to do," he said.

Standards-based report cards are designed to evaluate whether particular skills were mastered by students, and to what extent those skills were ascertained.

The new report cards will be distributed over the next three years, starting with this year's first-graders and, then, all subsequent classes: kindergarten and first grade this school year, second and third grade in 2009-10, and fourth and fifth grade in 2010-11.

Bryant said he used standards-based report cards as a school principal in the Douglas County School System before he joined the Henry system about a year ago.

Kindergarten- and first-grade teachers received training on the use of the report card system's "teacher rubrics." Parents have also received rubrics, which will include time frames for which specific skill sets are expected to be mastered.

"Based on first-hand feedback from presenting at over seven schools during parent/curriculum nights, feedback has been very positive," Bryant said. "Most parents want to know specifically what their child is capable of doing and ensuring that they are thoroughly prepared for the next school year.

"Many parents appreciate knowing from the beginning what they can begin assisting their child with at home to make them successful."

Grading on the standards-based system will be done on a 1-4 scale, with one being the minimum possible evaluation. The number '4' is the highest possible evaluation on the scale.

A student who earns a '4' on his or her report card has consistently and independently met the state's academic standards. A student with a '3' has consistently and independently mastered standards. And a student who earns a '2' in any given subject area has made progress toward meeting state standards in the subject area. The number '1' indicates that a student has made limited or minimum progress toward meeting the standard.

"We are providing all stakeholders (teachers, administrators, parents and students) the most efficient and effective communication on students' acquisition and mastery of the state curriculum for their grade level," Bryant added. "With the roll-out of the standards-based report cards in [...] many other metro school districts, this will become the norm for reporting students' progress towards mastery of the state standards."

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On the net:

Henry County Schools: www.henry.k12.ga.us