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SV changing letter grades to learning goals

System to start for K-1 in fall

JACKSON TWP — The Seneca Valley School Board discussed a new report card system Monday that does away with the long-standing A through F letter grade for pupils in kindergarten through fourth grade.

The new program has been two years in the making. It seeks to replace the old letter grades with a new assessment system. Its aim is to identify how well students are reaching their learning goals and better equip parents to help students in their studies.

The new report cards are set to launch at the start of the next school year for kindergarten and first grade.

Principals and teachers from Seneca Valley elementary schools presented the new program at Monday's board meeting.

“Teachers universally wanted a more detailed portrait of how students were doing,” kindergarten teacher Shay Houser said. “Parent feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Each class will be broken into learning goals, and teachers will mark whether the student is occasionally meeting, often meeting or exceeding these goals. This will allow teachers and parents to pinpoint the areas in which students are succeeding or struggling in each class.

Houser is one of the teachers piloting the new report card system this year.

She said while it initially means more work for teachers, the new system ultimately gives them a better understanding of their pupils and the purposes behind their lessons.

“It became a lot more manageable,” Houser said. “Now, we're in a constant state of assessment. That means we are so much more conscientious about what we're doing and why we're doing it.”

Kindergarten and first grade will implement the system this fall, while grades two through four will implement it at the start of the 2020-21 year.

District officials said staff is already looking into extending the system to grades five and six.

One attendee at the meeting wanted to know what happened to the letter grade 'E.'

Elementary assistant superintendent Sean McCarty said schools did away with the E letter grade in the 1930s out of concern that parents would mistake the poor mark for meaning “excellent.”

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