Board raises concerns over grading

NAUGATUCK — Most students, when they are doing well in school, will get an A or a B on a report card.

But students who are doing well in a Naugatuck elementary school get a “three” or a “four” instead of a letter.

Number grades of one through four, rather than the traditional letter grades of A through F, are used for all kindergarten through fourth-grade students in the public school district. Some parents are confused by the report cards and have expressed their concerns to the Board of Education, which has some members who are equally concerned over the grading system.

Now the board is considering a change, and it discussed the report cards at length during its meeting last week.

That change likely won’t happen this year, though, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Christopher Montini said. The grading system is tied to the current curriculum, and the board is in the midst of changing its curriculum to meet new state and federal standards. Therefore, changing the grading system now doesn’t make sense, Montini said.

“It is certainly something we will take a look at in the future,” he said.

The Naugatuck elementary school grading system is broken down like this: four —  exceeding standards; three — meeting the standard; two — progressing toward the standard; and one — not meeting the standard.

School board member James Jordan, who has children in elementary school, said it’s confusing if a child is progressing toward the standard at the end of the school year.

“Well, obviously they didn’t make the standard, so how close were they? We don’t know,” he said, adding that sometimes parents don’t know what the standard is.

“There are comments on the report cards, and the teachers usually explain the grades well, but initially when we see the report cards, it’s very confusing,” he said.

Among other issues, the change of report cards is a lower priority for the board and the administration, Jordan said. But it’s a pet peeve for many, he said, and his hope is to make the report card easier for parents to understand. He also said he knows of elementary school teachers who do not like the grading system. He would not name them.

Board member Glenn Connan, who also has children in elementary school, said the numbers are arbitrary.

“The old letter grades are not arbitrary,” he said. “You can measure a child’s average versus the class average so you know where your child stacks up, and you can act accordingly. Right now, we can’t do that.”

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