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New "Grading" System in Elementary Schools (Vent/Rant)

Okay, I know it's not "new", per se, since it's been used since my younger son entered kindergarten at least, but I just found out for sure today that they're moving this system up a grade level each year rather than confining it to the primary grades (K-2) which means that my hopes that FINALLY next year when the child was in third grade I'd get to know his academic standing in school and be able to understand his report card?  Have been dashed.

Apparently we're supposed to make do with these objective/mastery-based "report cards" until middle school, when our children will jump from "Oh you mastered the objective, how grand!" (although we don't know if the kid mastered it before his class, with his class, or well after 99% of his peers did) straight into letter grades.

Huh?  Okay, because adolescence is such a good time to throw even more new stressors onto children.  Sure.

I would ask for someone to tell me how much sense that makes, but it just flat-out makes no sense, and I am generally pretty good at looking at multiple sides of a situation.  In its attempts to be progressive and to guard our precious snowflakes against the stigma of bad grades (oh the horror!), the PCSB has not only rendered my child's report card utterly meaningless to me with this objective/mastery/woowoo-based grade reporting system, but has also set a large number of children up for shock and failure once they hit the middle school years.

How in the world am I to know how my child is doing in school?  I can't base his report cards on anything because this system correlates to nothing I've experienced in my life.  How will I know he's being successful?  How will I know if he is working to his potential or slacking off?  He's capable of straight A's... I think.  I don't know because he isn't graded.  So how are X's and /'s and --'s going to translate to middle school?  Are high schools going to adopt this mastery-based grading system?  And colleges?

I am sickened that my child's academic progress is effectually being hidden from me by the school board's decision to elect and extend this grading system, and I am terrified for his future at this point.  I love my children, but kids will often do the bare minimum to get by, and when all they have to worry about is an "X" or a "/" on their report card, they're going to have YEARS of poor academic and study habits laid down by the time they get to a graded system and then what will we have on our hands? 

I've heard "Oh, you can tell how he's doing by the FCAT!"   Really?  Once a year, an adequate assessment of my child's progress?  I'm supposed to be content with that?  My child is supposed to feel accountable to a once-a-year test?  I can't think of a single elementary school student out there who has that kind of attention span.  Granted, my exposure may be limited but I'm don't think I'm completely out of bounds with this line of thought.

From what I understand from elementary school teachers of my acquaintance, reporting grades with this new system takes twice as long as it did with the more standardized grading system.  I'd rather the teachers be able to use this time to plan lessons or to, say, teach, rather than deal with some unwieldy, obfuscatory, ultimately useless grade reporting system.  I don't want to have to find some way to pay to put the child in a private school that will give him actual grades, but I am truly considering it.

Please, someone tell me I'm not the only person who's weirded out by this.

Okay, I'm going to go crawl back under my rock now.

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I can't stand it.

I thought it was moving up with the kids but didn't know when it stopped. It makes sense they have to stop it in middle school since you have to have a 2.0 GPA in middle school to advance to the next grade. I really wish they didn't do it at all. I agree X and / is meaningless and why can't "mastery" be shown as a percentage? Supporters say it better correlated with the Sunshine State Standards, but I still don't see why letter grades can be given for each of the areas within the standards.
Precisely, Alicia.

And frankly, the report cards are so we, the parents, know how our children are doing. Taking the grading system, shaking it up, and turning it into something completely unrecognizable by the majority of the people it is supposed to be addressing is counter-productive, to say the least.

(Thank you for responding -- I was worried I was the only parent who didn't like it.)


Alicia (Alsan) said:
I can't stand it.

I thought it was moving up with the kids but didn't know when it stopped. It makes sense they have to stop it in middle school since you have to have a 2.0 GPA in middle school to advance to the next grade. I really wish they didn't do it at all. I agree X and / is meaningless and why can't "mastery" be shown as a percentage? Supporters say it better correlated with the Sunshine State Standards, but I still don't see why letter grades can be given for each of the areas within the standards.
LOL, I hate it only slightly less than I hate the FCAT...
MandyJay, you are not alone in your thoughts. I loathe this grading system for all the same reasons you mention.

A percentage grade is, what it is, not a guessing game. An, 'X' and a , '/', is so vague! When a slash is there, I wonder, "Just how far from an X (which translates as mastered) is my child?" Are they even close- or far away?" If my child had a percentage grade I would know exactly where they were, and how much farther they would need to be, to get an ideal grade. And like said, in my opinion, this can leave students lax in their study habits and parents too lenient in their push to make their children to strive further.

If an X is given in a subject as mastered that would in past grading systems correlate to a 'B' percentage grade, depending on the subject, I might want to push my child farther in that subject. If my child had an X that deems my child mastered in a subject, well, how do I know as a parent if I need to push them that extra step- take an extra 10 minutes on flash cards, on practice spelling tests, etc.

Example, what if a child had mastered marks in all the standards but was truly struggling in one or two areas more than the others. That would shine through more obvious to a parent if a standard was graded as 80% and one graded as a 95% instead of both receiving the mastered mark of an X.

I just abhor this SBAR grading system.

When you go to the section of the Polk County Public Schools' website discussing SBAR this is what they say about, why Polk Schools have adapted this grading type.

Why do we need to change?

The world is changing and so is education. The No Child Left Behind act (NCLB) as well as the Florida Department of Education have set learning targets or goals that all children must meet. These targets are the Sunshine State Standards. The SBAR reports your child’s progress on these same standards.


To me, this seems a silly/vague/surface reason (excuse) to be on this type of reporting. You can still test, evaluate, and report the same skills (standards) in a percentage based grading format.


Okay, off my soap box. I've been meaning to chat about this topic but knew I would post in this way. Thanks, MandyJay for bringing the topic up.
Imo , it's the crooked school board's devious way of passing along those students that aren't really learning.
When they start recieving "grades," their teachers will be even more pressured to pass them along , lest it appear they did not teach as well as the students' previous teachers. More will pass and more will graduate - that's the school board's true motive with this farce- but they will still stay ignorant enough to insure the crooks run Polk , and the dumbest students can continue to move on and get their college degrees , even if they still can't spell cat after getting one.
Shawn Arnold said:

When you go to the section of the Polk County Public Schools' website discussing SBAR this is what they say about, why Polk Schools have adapted this grading type.

Why do we need to change?

The world is changing and so is education. The No Child Left Behind act (NCLB) as well as the Florida Department of Education have set learning targets or goals that all children must meet. These targets are the Sunshine State Standards. The SBAR reports your child’s progress on these same standards.


To me, this seems a silly/vague/surface reason (excuse) to be on this type of reporting. You can still test, evaluate, and report the same skills (standards) in a percentage based grading format.

Okay, off my soap box. I've been meaning to chat about this topic but knew I would post in this way. Thanks, MandyJay for bringing the topic up.

Oh you're more than welcome. This one has been brewing for awhile, as I'm sure you can tell from my vaguely hysterical tone... it's done partly for humor and emphasis, but I really do believe this reporting system is ridiculous and will have unforeseen (not by us, but by the PCSB) repercussions in the future.

Not only does the information you quoted from the PCSB website on this matter seem to be a rather silly/vague "excuse" to be using this type of grade reporting format, the statement "The world is changing and so is education," is just obnoxious. Of course the world is changing, and certainly aspects of education must change with it. That doesn't mean you throw out the baby with the bathwater. It's just so patronizing. "We're so sorry you're upset by this change, but if you were bright enough to understand change, it would all make sense!"

It's insulting. If the change were helpful or effective that would be one thing, but it is quite the opposite, and to have the PCSB shoveling dirt at us while telling us it's gold is ridiculous (and again, insulting).

And Alicia, I hear you on the FCAT. When the person told me, "Oh, but you can see his FCAT scores!" my response was, "Yes, and that will tell me just how good he is at taking the FCAT... which is not the point."

Sigh.
It not only masks what your child doesn't know...it also masks what they DO. My kindergartener went to school reading on a second grade level. When I received his report card, I was shocked...according to it, my son did not even recognize a third of the alphabet and sounds. This is a skill he mastered well before his fourth birthday. When I questioned the teacher, she informed me that if a skill has not been taught in class, it cannot be marked as mastered. Since she has only taught 12 letters and sounds, those are the only ones he can be tested on. She tried to assure me that SHE knew what he could do, and I knew what he could do, and that I should be happy with that. I rebutted by asking if she would be happy with a work evaluation that was designed the same way...as a former PCSB kindergarten teacher, I knew she couldn't sugarcoat THAT reply. "Well, we can't show progress if he starts out the year having mastered all the skills"...AKA, "I can't keep my job and show adequate progress if your child comes in to school with too many skills...the more average he looks, the easier it is for me to take credit for teaching him what he already knew".

Politics, AYP, and teachers scrambling to justify test scores has completely eradicated why children go to school...to be educated. I understand that bad teachers and bad schools need to be dealt with, but this isn't working.
Great example and feedback, Macaela!
Wow - this is what I have to look forward to when my daughter has to go to school??!!! What a headache! The whole school system seems convoluted- let's teach to a test instead of what at child needs to learn at that grade level; grade with X's & I's instead of letter grades; have 50 million days off; plus early dismissals (as if parents don't work); move bad teachers from school to school to keep them employed... the list goes on.

And what is this really teaching our children - who I've chalked up to currently having no respect for themselves or others, walk over their parents because the government has made it so easy to do so, they get everything they want - when they want it- without having to work for it, take no responsibility for their actions (since the parents get blamed, even when its out of their control) --- so we're going to further sugarcoat their learning process and let them take less responsibility for their actions.

What is this world coming too??!!!!!


Stacie (Paco10778) said:
And what is this really teaching our children - who I've chalked up to currently having no respect for themselves or others, walk over their parents because the government has made it so easy to do so, they get everything they want - when they want it- without having to work for it, take no responsibility for their actions (since the parents get blamed, even when its out of their control) --- so we're going to further sugarcoat their learning process and let them take less responsibility for their actions.

What is this world coming too??!!!!!

Well said, I couldn't agree more! I read an article today saying they were going to do away with the "F" grade in high schools, why? Because they don't want children to feel as if they have failed, you got an "F", you did FAIL! DUH! Sugarcoat it some more people, the way its going our children will never experience failure, wait till they hit the REAL world, let them try, let them fail, how else are they supposed to learn!
Wow! I had absolutely no idea!!!! Who is it that establishes these practices? According to the school board web page, "grades" are supposed to be 1,2,3, or 4. So where does the X/I come in? I lean more and more to homeschool every day!
Ok, I might date myself, but its really been less than 20 years since I went to high school. I remember when I first started school the grading system went like this:
94-100, A
86-93, B
76-85, C
65-74, D
and 64 and under was an F.

Then when I was like the 10th grade they changed it to

90-100, A
80-89, B
70-79 C
60-69, D
and 59 under was an F.

I thought that sucked. Because I had been working my butt off for years to keep an A average so my GPA would be high and then all those slackers got higher GPA's just because they loosened up the grading. Now they don't even do grades, Huh...? Since my little one does not go to school yet I was not aware of this and do not think I agree at all. I want to know specifically where my child is at and by how far he either "masters" or doesn't in a subject. Maybe in the two years it will take him to get to kindergarten they will have changed it, I can only hope.

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