Board members also agreed to provide elementary school teachers with resources to implement Common Core standards this school year, which begins Wednesday.
Board member Jason Waters thought the report card change could cause confusion.
“I see some parents that are going to say, ‘I want to know all that data,’ and then I see other people that are going to be confused by that because they say, ‘I’ve never known anything but A, B, C, D,’” Waters said. “We’ve got to make sure that we communicate to these parents.”
Irene Berens, board vice chairwoman, said the changes are coming without much notice to parents.
“I would really like some parent feedback,” Berens said. “I wish that we weren’t running up on the start of school time.”
Board member Jill Mutimer agreed with Berens and said she was worried that parents would have trouble understanding. But Mutimer said she was willing to give the new report cards a try.
“I think that feedback is probably going to be better after we’ve tried it,” Mutimer said.
The board ultimately adopted the change in a vote of 5-0 with Chairman Randy Weiner absent.
More parents will soon see the letter grading system disappear from their child’s report card.
The district is slowly rolling out the new grading system year by year, with the goal of ultimately using it at the high school level.
The board adopted the grading system for kindergarten last year.
The grading system, which delegates students a number 1, 2, 3 or 3 plus, instead of A, B, C or D, is complicated because it’s new, said Superintendent Emily Lembeck.
“It is something that’s going to take some explanation,” Lembeck said.
A 3 plus is the highest score and a 1 is the lowest.
The new report cards include subcategories under each subject the student gets is graded on. For instance, underneath the subject of science, a student gets a grade in each topic: weather and water, light and sound, magnets and plants and animals.
In other subjects, such as English language arts, the subtopics are more skill-specific, such as “asks and answers questions to seek help, get information, or deepen understanding.”
Beth Ogletree, the district’s elementary school curriculum director, said these subtopics specified on the report cards will change throughout the school year as a class studies different topics.
“Expectations (of students) change each quarter,” Ogletree said.
In another report card change, the board voted 5-0 to stop giving a separate letter grade to second through fifth graders for spelling. The new report cards will incorporate spelling into grades the students receive for English language arts.
The board also voted 5-0 to spend $26,369 on Common Core lesson planning books for math.
“They provide the lessons spelled out for the teacher exactly at the level of rigor required by the new standards,” Ogletree said.
The books will go to the school system’s eight elementary schools.
The purchase was approved without much discussion. Weiner said after the meeting the board has never opposed the Common Core standards.
“I see it mostly as a political issue,” Weiner said.
The board agrees with the standards because it has determined they build off of the formerly used Georgia Performance Standards, he said.
The books will give teachers step-by-step directions on how to teach according to Common Core standards for math, and Weiner said they were important resources to have.
“It’s important for the Common Core standards to remain in place so we don’t keep moving the target for the teachers,” Weiner said.