NEWBERRY — Report cards for those in kindergarten through second grade will have a new look and new grading system this year.
At Monday’s school board meeting, the school district’s assistant superintendent, Cynthia Downs, informed the board of the new academic progress reports. The first nine weeks just ended on Tuesday so report cards will be out soon for parents to see how the new grading system is.
The new grading systems replaces the current letters, A, B, C, D and F. Instead, kindergartners will have a M for meeting the requirements per grade level, P for progressing and N for needs additional assistance.
Those in first and second grade will add an E to the new system which stands for exceeds grade level expectations.
This means that for first through second grade, E is the top letter followed by M, P and N.
This system will include grades for English/language arts, math, science and social studies.
“We feel more strongly this communicates more clearly to parents where their child is doing well or needs assistance,” said Downs.
“The standards based report puts each content area into listings of skills and knowledge to be learned by the end of the year,” said Downs.
Downs said that the district actually began this last year with kindergartners in the math subject and the Montessori classes have already done this system.
Other school districts, such as Union and Lexington five, have used this as well, according to Downs.
Downs also adds that while those in kindergarten through second grade won’t have the typical honor roll, they will still be recognized for their recognitions. For example, Downs says that one award would be “for meeting reading goals.”
“Kids will be recognized for their effort and work,” Downs said.
However, “this takes away the competition from other children,” Downs said, “We are looking for on grade level performance.”
Downs notes that the letter is meant to indicate progress, but as the year escalates, there will be input received and revisions as necessary.
There will also be a comment section for parents and the elementary principals at the board meeting noted that parent nights will be held and parents are still strongly encouraged to talk with teachers whenever they want.
The card will be in a table format with the expectations and goals on the left and then a letter on the right to best indicate how the student is doing.
In other news, Superintendent Bennie Bennett discussed the school board retreat that was held earlier on Monday.
While there were many things discussed, Bennett pointed out some highlights.
“We were able to establish goals and ideas for the school district,” said Bennett.
Technology in schools was a hot topic. Because of the constantly increasing technology and need to stay ahead despite expenses, there may be a required line item in the budget eventually.
Also, he explained that about the ratio of technicians with devices and how some areas are more of challenge to keep and replace. They will have to keep that in mind.
Bennett also discussed the expansion of the career center and options in classes. He mentioned the growth of the mechatronics, which is an engineering-type class, at the career center.
“When we vacate the current district building, we can use that for Newberry County Career Center space,” said Bennett.
Bennett also mentioned the need for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program.
“We need to start to look at STEM programs in the spring,” said Bennett who adds it will take time to get one.
In the budgeting process, Bennett explained that salaries were discussed and they also talked about being comparable with other districts and will talk about a cap on salaries.