Standards Based Report Cards

Standards based report cards provide direct feedback to parents/guardians regarding the progress their child is making towards the year-end standards that have been established by the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for his/her grade level. It will allow parents and students to clearly understand expectations and what is necessary to be successful in a rigorous academic program.

Principles of Grading

Principle 1: Grades and reports should be based on clearly specified learning goals and performance standards. Students from Swallow Union and Florence Roche will be graded using the same standards from their grade level.

Principle 2: Evidence used for grading should be valid. Students are assessed on what they are taught. There are no trick questions and no surprises.

Principle 3: Grading should be based on established criteria, not on arbitrary norms. On an assessment, students are graded on the standards assessed, not on arbitrary norms such as poor handwriting or no name on the paper.

Principle 4: Not everything should be included in grades. Students are not graded as they are learning the information, but after the learning has occurred. Students need to have enough “practice” in order to be successful in the “game.” Practice is learning time (Formative—not graded). The game is to show what you know (Summative—graded).

Principle 5: Avoid grading based on (mean) averages. Student grades are decided on using the mode instead of the mean.

Principle 6: Focus on achievement and report other factors separately. Students’ achievement should be the only aspect included in their grade. Students’ math or ELA grades will reflect their math or ELA achievement. However, their work habits and responsibilities during math and ELA will be reported separately.

Performance Levels

Exceeds the Standard [E] – The student exceeds grade level standards by independently applying and utilizing above average grade level concepts and skills.

Meets the Standard [M] – The student demonstrates thorough understanding of grade level concepts and skills. Performance is characterized by the ability to apply the skills with accuracy, quality, and independence.

Progressing Toward the Standard [P] – The student demonstrates understanding of basic grade level concepts and skills. Performance is characterized by the ability to apply the skills with increasing success. Performance may vary in consistency with regard to accuracy and quality.

Making Insufficient Progress Towards the Standard [I] – The student is making minimal progress towards the grade level standard. Performance is inconsistent even with support. Interventions are in place to facilitate progress towards the standard.

Not Evaluated this Term [N/E] – This standard has not been evaluated during this term.

Trimester Benchmarks

Kindergarten Trimester Benchmarks

ELA/Science/Social Studies Mathematics
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First Grade Trimester Benchmarks

ELA/Science/Social Studies Mathematics
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Second Grade Trimester Benchmarks

ELA/Science/Social Studies Mathematics
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Third Grade Trimester Benchmarks

ELA/Science/Social Studies Mathematics
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Fourth Grade Trimester Benchmarks

ELA/Science/Social Studies Mathematics
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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the purpose of the standards-based report cards at the elementary level?
    • The standards-based report cards provide direct feedback to parents/guardians regarding the progress their child is making towards the year-end standards that have been established by the MA Common Core State Standards for his/her grade level. It allows parents and students to clearly understand expectations and what is necessary to be successful in a rigorous academic program.
  • What is a standards-based report card?
    • The job of a report card is to clearly, fairly and objectively communicate how a child is doing in school. A standards-based report card (SBRC) tells specifically how a child is doing in school and what needs improvement. All teachers in a grade level measure student learning against set criteria. This is different from a traditional report card which gives a single letter or number grade for broad subject categories. A standards-based report card puts the emphasis on learning, rather than on comparisons among students. A traditional grade labels a child’s performance and often includes such things as extra credit, work habits, and attitude; a standards-based report card gives concrete information the teacher and you can use to assist your child, and separates academic performance from work habits and personal characteristics.
  • Where do the standards come from?
  • How are the standards-based report cards different from the traditional report cards?
    • On many traditional report cards, students receive one grade for reading, one for math, one for science and so on. On a standards-based report card, each of these subject areas is divided into a list of skills and knowledge that students are responsible for learning. Students receive a separate mark for each standard. The achievement marks indicate a child’s progress toward meeting specific grade-level standards. The student’s proficiency is reported separately from his or her effort. With the new standards-based reporting system, students are evaluated more objectively according to consistent grade-level standards. The letter grades used in traditional report cards are a more subjective reflection of individual teachers’ expectations for student effort and achievement.
  • Why are there multiple standards under each subject?
    • In a traditional system, it is not possible to see strengths and weaknesses when different elements of the subject are all grouped together. By providing more specific descriptions of the learning expectations and rating students on each, students and parents can see where performance is proficient and where it needs improvement.
  • What if students meet the standard before the end of the year?
    • If a student shows early mastery of fundamental skills and concepts in a particular standard, the teaching and learning does not stop. The student who has met the standard can concentrate on more challenging work that is at higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy or that seeks connections among objectives.
  • How is assessment different for traditional assessment versus standards-based assessment?
    • Traditional assessing averages work that a student has done over time with other student characteristics, such as work habits, attendance, homework and effort. Standards-based assessing focuses solely on a student’s academic achievement and continued mounting evidence that indicates a true assessment of the child’s attainment of learning targets. Extraneous factors, like work habits, homework, attendance and effort, are assessed and reported separately.In standards-based assessments, reporting is based more upon the progress toward mastery of learning targets or standards than traditional assessment does. Subject areas are sub-divided into big ideas related to standards and their respective learning targets that students need to learn or master. Each target is assessed. Scores from activities that are provided solely for practice are not reflected. The influence of positive and consistent work habits on student learning is reported separately from academics.On many traditional report cards, students receive one grade for reading, one for math, one for science and so on. On a standards-based report card, each of these subject areas is divided into a list of skills and knowledge which students are responsible for learning. Students receive a separate mark for each standard.The marks on a standards-based report card are different from traditional letter grades. Traditional letter grades are often calculated by combining how well the student met his/her particular teacher’s expectations, how he/she performed on assignments and tests, and how much effort the teacher believes was put forth. Letter grades do not tell parents which skills their children have mastered. Because one 4th grade teacher might be assessing a student’s reading fluency, while another is assessing reading for comprehension, getting an ‘A’ in each of these classes might mean very different things.Standards-based report cards will provide more consistency between teachers over the years than traditional report cards because all students are evaluated on the same grade-appropriate skills. Parents can see exactly which skills and knowledge their children have learned.
  • How can I help my child to achieve the MA Common Core Standards?
    • With standards-based report cards, the teachers have a better tool to report exactly what your child can do, as well as the areas in which your child needs more time to develop. Examine the new report card so that you will know what your child is expected to learn and master at his/her grade level. It will be important for you to maintain an open and on-going dialogue with your child’s teacher. Make sure you share your observations of your child’s progress with the teacher. Ask questions specific to various indicators and work with the teacher on plans to improve areas that are still developing. At home, ask your child specific questions about school and listen to and comment on their answers. The new report card separates behaviors from academic achievement. Take these areas seriously and realize that they are also developmental  in nature. If your child is rarely exhibiting some behaviors that are crucial to success in the classroom, develop a plan at home to encourage improvement in these areas. Your child’s teacher is your ally in this process and can offer you concrete suggestions to use at home. This reporting device is committed to the ideal that students in the primary grades do not fail. When a child is not developing at the same rate as others in his/her peer group, it is the responsibility of the adults around them—both at school and at home—to facilitate a plan to enable them to be successful. Working together we can make this possible.
  • How will students receiving special education services be graded?
    • Special education students are also given the elementary standards-based report card. To comply with the law, documentation of progress specific to IEP (Individual Education Plan) goals and objectives will be reported to parents on IEP progress report forms each trimester.
  • How will students receiving ELL (English Language Learner) support be graded?
    • Students who have been identified as ELL will be given the elementary standards-based report card. The ELL teacher will provide a progress report each trimester.
  • How frequently will report cards be distributed?
    • Report cards will be published three times a year. Report cards are available through SchoolBrains and are available a few weeks after each term ends. Please consult the school calendar for the end dates of each term.
  • How does standards-based assessing effect student motivation?
    • When students can clearly see the learning goals/purpose for each activity and connect the outcome of those activities to actions that are within their control, motivation improves. In other words, when students can see that the level and amount of work they contribute to a learning activity is directly related to the outcome, they will be empowered and encouraged to work hard.
  • How does a standards-based report card improve teaching and learning?
    • Knowing where the students are in their progress toward meeting standards-based learning targets is crucial for planning and carrying out classroom instruction. Teachers teach to the needs of each student. The new assessing system is designed to give teachers more information about each student’s progress in meeting the level of proficiency required by each standard. In addition, teachers share the standards with students and parents, helping them to better understand the learning that is taking place.
  • How were these report cards created?
    • A committee of teachers, specialists and administrators began the process of reviewing and evaluating standards-based report cards from school districts, both locally and across the country. Utilizing input from all of the elementary school teachers, the committee generated a report card template that reflected the new MA Common Core Standards. The committee continued to meet through the summer to refine the report card template and prepare informational materials for both teachers and parents, in order to prepare everyone for the transition to a standards-based report card.
  • Will the new report card and the implementation system be reviewed and evaluated at the end of this year? Will you be asking for feedback from teachers and parents?
    • The standards-based report card will be distributed at the end of each trimester this year. The committee that developed the report card will continue to meet periodically to discuss how the role out process is going. The teachers will have professional development throughout the year to assist in the process of using standards-based grading and standards-based report cards. At the end of the year, the committee will be collecting feedback from the teachers. The overall format of the report card will remain the same; however, feedback may show that some wording will need to be tweaked to better represent what is being reported. The committee will also be surveying parents in the middle of the school year and again at the end of the school year to collect feedback from parents about the new report cards.