PENNS MANOR: First-grade report card format changed
September 13, 2013 10:49 AM
by JULIE MARTIN

KENWOOD — The Penns Manor School District has changed the format of report cards for first-grade students in hopes of better aligning learning with standards approved the Pennsylvania Board of Education and, ultimately, helping its students better prepare for higher education and career opportunities.

Report cards have been revised by first-grade teachers at Penns Manor, according to elementary Principal David Grimaldi. He gave a presentation on the new report cards at Thursday’s school board meeting.

“It’s a big transition,” Grimaldi said of the updated report cards, which are being piloted with the first grade this year. The ultimate goal, he said, is to roll them out elementary-wide in coming years, perhaps as soon as next school year.

The report cards are expected to offer better communication between teachers, parents and students, in terms of specific areas within each subject, according to Grimaldi.

For instance, instead of getting an “A” in math, the new report cards break down the students’ progress into different categories, based on focus areas such as operations, geometry and mathematical reasoning.

The goal is to use a report card that will more thoroughly incorporate what standardized tests cover. The new report cards align with Common Core standards, a new set of guidelines proposed for use in schools across the county. The Common Core standards are designed to be relevant to the real world and provide knowledge required for success in college and the workforce, according to materials from the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

The State Board of Education voted 13-4 Thursday to approve what is being called the Pennsylvania Core Standards and its associated graduation component.

Penns Manor’s new first-grade report cards, Grimaldi said, were designed to more thoroughly incorporate what will be seen on state standardized tests. The new design also should communicate between students, parents, teachers and administrators what those standards are.

“It’s going to give them a little more information on the specifics of where the kids need improvement,” said Superintendent Thomas Kakabar.

Education standards themselves will change as well, according to Kakabar.

“Curriculum will change somewhat because of the changes in standards,” he said, adding that they will not be drastic, but will be “more rigorous.”

While the changes may create more work for teachers, he said, they also encourage greater communication between educators and administrators.

According to Grimaldi, teachers like the revised report card because it’s more specific.

In addition to creating the standard space report card, first-grade teachers also had to adjust their lessons in anticipation of the changes.

“It was a lot of work on their part and they did an excellent job,” he said.

Grimaldi will provide more information on the new standard space report cards at an Oct. 18 parent-teacher luncheon.

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