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Report Card FAQs

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Why a new report card?

Recently, California updated standards and practices for many content areas. As a result, we realized our elementary report card needed to be updated. District teachers and administrators researched best practices in the development of an elementary progress report and report card that align with updated standards to communicate effectively with parents and guardians. This will be our first year using the documents that were crafted after our research and development.  

What is a Standards Based Report Card?

A Standards Based Report Card will share student progress across standards of instruction. This document is intended to show content that is to be learned by students in a particular grade level. Students will receive detailed marks toward progress based on those grade level standards.

Who else uses a Standards Based Report Card?

Standards Based Grading and Reporting have been used by many districts around the state for a number of years. Some of our neighbors who use this system are San Marino, Arcadia, South Pasadena, Pasadena, and El Monte. Families of students in grades K-5 in those districts are accustom to using this type of grading system. 

How do the standards relate to the state test CAASPP?

Students take standards-based tests beginning in the third grade. They are referred to as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress System (CAASPP). When scores are reported, they are defined in four performance bands similar to those on the report card. This could be a helpful tool since both provide information about progress towards mastery of the state standards.

How are grades achieved under this reporting system?

The state standards are written for year-end mastery. However, teachers will report on mastery based on the time of year and the content taught. Teachers utilize curriculum, multiple measures, and classroom opportunities to develop grades in each area. This allows students to demonstrate mastery in various ways.

Where can we find the latest California State Standards?

You can find content standards at the California Department of Education Website. The District also posts the links through Educational Services.

How can we reach new understandings about report cards?

Since marks in the Kindergarten through fifth grades are now a numeric rubric, it may take some time to get use to the concepts around this type of reporting device and the thinking behind it. A helpful resource comes from Carol Dweck (2015) with her work on mindsets in her book "Mindset, The New Psychology of Success". In it she describes fixed and growth mindsets. A Fixed Mindset system holds that qualities like intelligence and talent are fixed and cannot be changed. Those traits are the only indicators of success. A Growth Mindset believes that people do have a starting point and can develop abilities and talents through dedication and hard work. Please view the link on our District website to learn more about mindset. Report card marks are indicators of progress towards mastery and cannot be compared with a letter grading system.

What do the numbers on a K-5th grade standards-based report card mean?

4 – Extends and Applies  (not on the kindergarten report card)
Students show not only an in-depth understanding of grade level standards on a consistent basis, but also extend and apply the standard to complete assignments.  Students demonstrate with a high degree of accuracy and application of skills as measured through various measures and opportunities during the grading period.

3 – Meets Standards (in kindergarten - “3” is meets or exceeds)
A “3” indicates proficient understanding of the concepts and grade level expectations for the standards at that point of time in the school year. A “3” indicates that the student is right where she or he should be and is meeting the standard..

2 – Approaching Standards
Grades at this level indicate that students have a partial understanding of grade level concepts. A “2” represents basic understanding. Performance may be inconsistent or emerging at that point in time during the school year.

1 – Below Standards
A “1” shows that students have a minimal understanding of the grade level concept at that point in the school year. Performance is inconsistent even with support. Students may need additional interventions to learn concepts important to the grade level.

What does an N/A mean on the report card?

A score of N/A on the report card means the standard has not yet been taught. Grade level standards not yet covered or assessed will be marked with an N/A, indicating the standard will be addressed at a later time during the school year.

Can you help me understand this using a real life example?

Riding a bicycle is a helpful way to understand the four point rubric. Students progress through the stages of learning in similar ways.

 4 point rubic


Transitioning from traditional grades

Should I expect to receive all “4s” if my child had all A’s under the former report card?

Often parents will see “3” and “4” for students who had received A’s in the past. Standards based grading tries to delineate and detail the elements that comprise a grade so you may see the components that are specific to the standard and grade level. You may from time to time see a “2”. That may be if the concept is new or challenging for the child when introduced. Remember that a “4” indicates that a student has in-depth understanding of grade level standards on a consistent basis. Likewise, a student who receives “3s” in Kindergarten through fifth grade may receive anywhere from a “C” to an “A” once they move to sixth grade.  

How can my child obtain a “4”?

Extending and Applying a standard is not the same as receiving a letter grade of “A”. Under the former report card, we often measured accuracy of factual knowledge. A summative test indicated that a student received a letter grade of “A”. On a standards based report card, applying concepts and knowledge beyond grade level expectation with accuracy, independence, and with high quality receives greater consideration in determining the appropriate mark.

Are 4,3,2,1 and A,B,C,D,F the same?

Standards-based grading using numbers is not the same as the previous grading system which used letters. Rubric scores represent measures that can be greater or different from points and percentages.  Numbers on a rubric provide a more holistic representation of student progress and understanding. The two systems are different and are not correlated. This is a shift for us all and it may take some time to grasp, adapt, and understand.

Does this reporting system motivate my child?

Research on grades has been done over the years. The basic outcome of studies show that traditional grades do not motivate students to learn. Traditional grades reduce a student’s preference for challenging tasks (Harter and Guzman, 1986, Kage, 1991).  

What about Science and Social Studies?

The State first focused on ELA and Math Standards. As the details and curriculum in science, social studies, arts, and other content areas are updated, they will be used to update our most current report card.

When is the “Modified Curriculum/Instruction” selection checked on the report card?

This option is used to signify that a student participates in a curriculum that has to be modified to allow student access to the general education and grade level content standards. This option can also be used to signify students who participate in an alternate curriculum that addresses other educational needs.

What is the “Supported Education” section for?

This option is used to signify that the student participates in a general education with supports that could be provided through Specialist Academic Instruction (SAI) or a Section 504 Plan.

Please see below for explanation of educational terms:

  • A modification to the curriculum changes the content a student is taught and is expected to master.
  • An accommodation is a change how the student learns the materials.
  • An adaptation is in the change in the delivery of the content. Instruction can be adapted to include more multi-sensory and multiple strategies.