Standards Based Report Cards

Standards help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful by providing clear goals for student learning.  The standards clearly communicate what is expected of students at each grade level.  Standards are specific learning outcomes that students must meet at certain grade levels.  They provide the foundation for 21st century learning opportunities.  Grade level standards are aligned with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

See the links below for more information on educational standards:

What is a standards-based report card?

A standards-based report card highlights the most important skills students should learn in each subject at a particular grade level. In our elementary school learning environment, students receive marks that report student progress toward meeting content and performance standards three times a year.  Benchmarks for each of the trimester marking periods are used to determine if the student is progressing toward the end-of-year standards.

Standards based report card provides parents with a more detailed outline of expectations.  It informs parents about their child’s progress towards achieving specific learning standards.  A standard based report card expands the subject area into a list of skills and knowledge our students are responsible for learning.  The purpose is to provide feedback that is more detailed, rather than one letter grade for a content area.  A standard based report card measures how well a student is doing in relation to grade level standards—NOT the work of other students.  This provides a better understanding of a child’s strength and weaknesses.

What is a trimester marking period?

Our standards-based report card is based on three marking periods (December, March, and June).  Teachers will use marking period grading benchmarks to evaluate student progress. Benchmarks often change each trimester to reflect new standards and expectations for student growth.

What are the proficiency levels on the report card?

The proficiency level represents a student’s progress on the report card.  There are four categories, 1-4.

  • 4-Exceeds Standards—Earning a “4” means the student has advanced understanding and exceeds grade-level expectations. A student receiving a “4” Consistently grasps, applies, and extends key concepts, process and skills.  This student shows initiative, challenges himself or herself, and demonstrates this advanced knowledge at school.  A “4” is difficult to obtain and indicates unusually high achievement beyond grade level benchmarks.
  • 3- Meets Standards—Earning a “3” means the student has proficient understanding and meets grade-level expectations.  We want all of our students to reach a level “3.”  A student receiving a “3” is right on track with our high academic expectations.  A “3” is something to be celebrated!
  • 2-Approaching Standards—Earning a “2” means the student has basic understanding and partially meets grade-level expectations. A student receiving a “2” is beginning to grasp and apply key concepts, processes, and skills, but has not yet reached the proficient level.  A “2” should indicate to parents that their child may need some extra help or extra time to practice/understand that concept or skill.
  • 1-Needs Support—Earning a “1” means the student has minimal understanding and does not meet grade-level expectations. A student receiving a “1” has academic delays according to our district standards, and interventions may be needed to learn and stay on track with district expectations.

Please keep in mind that these numbers are not indicators of a linear performance from trimester to trimester; rather, they are reflective of the goals of the current trimester.  For example, your child may receive a “2” in a content skill in one trimester, but he/she may not automatically receive a “3” in that same content skill in the next trimester.  This can be reflective of the natural progression of skills and curriculum benchmarks that developmentally change throughout the year.

We want parents to recognize that our teaching and assessments are directed at ensuring that all students have an opportunity to meet our curriculum standards.  Different students progress at different rates, so standards may be met in varying amounts of time, with varying amounts of teacher support.

How do teachers determine proficiency levels?

Teachers determine which proficiency level your child has earned by using a report card benchmark. A report card benchmark outlines exactly what your child needs to know or be able to do to earn a 4, 3, 2, or 1 on the report card.

Throughout the trimester, teachers assess students.  With the standards for that grade level in mind, they consider:  knowledge of the child (How does this child learn best?  In what way does this child communicate his/her learning?); evidence of student performance (work samples that have been collected, student performance on activities and assessments, teacher anecdotal notes); and, finally, knowledge of what the child is expected to know or be able to do (district curriculum and standards, report card benchmarks).  Effort, participation, adherence to rules, attendance, late work or missing assignments are not measures of achievement.  These behaviors will be noted in a separate section.

After going through this process, the teacher assigns a proficiency level for each line of the report card.

Will there be conference opportunities available to discuss my child’s progress?

Yes.  Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled twice a year (October and February).

Will parents be able to view the grading benchmarks?

The elementary report card benchmarks are available to parents and students through the link on this website.  We want you to understand exactly what your child knows and is able to do.  Paper copies are available upon request at your child’s school office.

What have I learned about standard based report cards?

Standard based report cards make high standards the focus of every classroom.  It will be clear to everyone what learning should take place during the school year; and teachers will be collaborating more than ever to create quality work that aligns to the standards.  In a traditional system, students get higher grades when they turn in work on time and complete every task, even if they do not show mastery of the standards.  Sometimes students receive lower grades because they do not have good work habits, even if they have mastered the standards.  Fair grading will show mastery of content, as well as initiative and work habits.  Students are assessed on their ability to apply the standards to real life situations, not just state facts that have been memorized.  Teaching and learning must be focused on standards, rather than just coverage of materials.