LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Parent teacher conferences are getting underway in October, and part of the conversation during those conferences may involve an explanation of the new grading system.
Like many school districts across the Coulee Region and the nation, La Crosse has been transitioning to a standards based report card. This transition is a part of Wisconsin's adoption of a federal initiative called Common Core Standards. The idea behind Common Core Standards is to make sure kids are getting a similar education whether a child goes to school in La Crosse, Wisconsin, or Denver, Colorado.
Already, the district made changes to the elementary school report card by breaking out exactly what benchmarks or objectives a student at every grade level needs to meet by the end of the school year. Examples for a kindergartener include, ‘expresses his or her own ideas using pictures.’
Now, instead of seeing a one, two or three next to those objectives, you're going to see a P, M, or E. P means a student is progressing toward their year-end expectations. M means a student has mastered their year-end expectations. And E means a student exceeds the year-end expectations.
“It's very clear,” said Mary Lin Wershofen, Southern Bluffs Elementary School principal. “It helps parents know they've got it or they don't have it. The responsibility is on the teacher to help the families understand what is it that my child still needs to do to get to that mastery level.... No longer will you have that what did my child do this quarter, and have they mastered this first quarter. It's about measuring them toward a mastery level at the end of a school year."
So, gone are the days of extra credit sheets and bonus points for turning your homework in on time, which would sometimes boost a student's grade. Now the grades will be based only on whether or not a student fully understands a concept by the end of the school year.
The end of the first quarter is November 7th, and report cards with the new grading system will be sent out at that time.
Currently, administrators in La Crosse middle and high schools are having conversations about whether they're ready to move toward this type of standards based reporting.