Lee County issues new report cards

Parents of Lee County’s youngest students will see a new set of letters when they open report cards this year.
The district has replaced cards for students in kindergarten through second grade.
Instead of the traditional A, B, C, D, F report, students in kindergarten through second grade will be evaluated on how they meet certain standards in each subject.
Their grade will either be a “P” for proficient, a “B” for basic or an “M” for minimal.
Students with a “P” or a “B” in math and reading at the end of the year will advance to the next grade. Students with an “M” in either subject will repeat that grade.
The standards are determined by the Mississippi Department of Education curriculum framework, said Lisa Franks, elementary curriculum coordinator for Lee County Schools. Parents will get the first of the new report cards on Oct. 15.
The change will allow teachers to better evaluate a student’s strengths and weaknesses, Franks said. In the past, a student might have a B in a course, but the grade would hide the child’s struggles in a particular area.
The new report cards will have subcategories.
For instance, it will not only list a student’s grade for “Language Arts/ Reading,” it will also show whether he or she is proficient, basic or minimal in several areas within the course.
Those areas could include vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing, grammar and fluency.
The student’s math grade will also have subcategories.
“What we’re trying to do is to give our parents more information and better information about how their kids are progressing,” Franks said. “They will know what their strengths are and will know what their weaknesses are so they can help.”
The district has been researching and studying the change for the past year. Several teachers, administrators and school board members traveled to Seattle to study schools there that were already using standards-based report cards.
Before this school year began, all K-2 teachers had to read the book “How to Grade for Learning” by Ken O’Connor in order to better understand standards-based grading.
A teacher committee with members from each school and grade involved in the change worked on a curriculum with guides that made sure the standards were being met.
The district held two day-long workshops to help its teachers better understand how the new system will work. It also held information sessions for parents at each of its K-2 schools.
“We appreciate the support of the teachers, community members and parents,” said Shannon Primary Principal Candace Moore.
“A grade won’t tell me anything I need,” said Ken Smith, principal of Saltillo Primary. “I need to know what skills the students know and don’t know.”
With that knowledge, teachers can adjust the curriculum to fill in the skills the students have not mastered.
“It benefits individual student growth,” said Verona Elementary principal Temeka Shannon. “If a problem is diagnosed, we have a prescription to give that child in that area.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal