Changes intended to make report cards easier to understand

NAUGATUCK — Parents of elementary school students will see some changes to their child’s report cards soon.

Before the start of the 2017-18 school year, the Board of Education changed the format of report cards for students in kindergarten through fourth grade from the standard letter grades of A through F to a list of competencies.

The competencies are a list of skills students are supposed to have by a certain grade, such as understanding and employing a number system in second grade. The competencies are graded from half a point to four points in half-point increments and fall into one of three categories: emerging, progressing or exceeding the goal.

When the board made the changes in 2017, officials said the report cards would show parents whether students understand the skills in each class and can put those skills into practice.

During the school board’s Feb. 14 meeting, Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said some parents have raised questions and concerns about the format, saying they had a difficult time understanding it.

“If our teachers understand the report card but our parents don’t, it is not working. So we need to listen to both our teachers and parents and make sure the tool works for its designed purpose,” Locke said.

To help parents better understand the report cards, the district is implementing three changes for the next round of report cards, which will come out in March, Locke said.

The changes include a key at the top of the report card to make it easier to understand and putting numbers from the scoring guide to ensure parents see how their child is doing.

Previously the report card only showed which of the three categories a student had reached. The numbers from the scoring guide will allow parents to see if the students have just reached that category or if they are close to reaching the next category.

Locke said the report cards will cut down on the amount of technical language, or “edu-speak,” in favor of more plain and straightforward wording.

“The teachers worked together to come up with language that is more suitable,” Locke said.

The district will also look at making more substantial changes to the report cards for next school year, Locke said.

Locke said as those changes are introduced, she will bring them to the Board of Education.