Primary-school teachers rush to finish paperwork

June 28, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

The end of the school year couldn't have arrived soon enough for Carroll County teachers and students, who had to go four days later than usual last week.

But elementary teachers were also struggling to find time to record grades and permanent records, which had to be done by the last day.

Some principals came through with innovative ideas, such as having parent volunteers come in. A few principals even took over classes themselves for a while.

This year was the first time teachers weren't given an extra paid day after students had left. Elementary teachers used to spend that day filling in permanent records for students and packing up their materials for storage over the summer.

But the school calendar this year included more days of teacher training at the expense of that nonstudent day for teachers in June. Plans are the same for next year -- no extra day for paperwork.

The permanent records are in addition to report cards, which teachers usually take home to complete. Only elementary teachers have to fill them out.

"Permanent records cannot leave the school," said Cindy Cummings, president of the Carroll County Education Association. "They have to be done in the school, as do putting away all the materials and packing up. It's very time-consuming."

Mrs. Cummings is an elementary teacher on leave of absence for the past two years to carry out her duties with the teachers union.

"I've spent eight hours doing report cards," she said, although the typical time for a class of 28 is six to seven hours.

The permanent records are in addition to that, and can take about 20 to 30 minutes per child, she said. They also include a language-arts checklist, asking teachers to describe student performance in about 50 categories.

To respond to teacher concerns, Dorothy Mangle, director of elementary education, asked principals to come up with ways in each school to make time for teachers to fill in the records.

At Winfield Elementary School, principal Raymond Mathias and staff brought in parent volunteers who worked with the classes for about an hour a day last week. That gave teachers time to do their paperwork.

At Charles Carroll Elementary, principal Robert Bruce and specialty-area teachers volunteered to take over each teacher's classroom for a half-day.

Nancy Chapin, principal at Carrolltowne Elementary School, and her specialty teachers did the same.

In addition, Mrs. Mangle arranged for parent volunteers and a secretary to print out computer labels listing the books each child read that year, so teachers didn't have to write it out by hand on each child's permanent record.

Marie Bantner, a fifth-grade teacher at William Winchester Elementary School, said the efforts this year have helped, but teachers could fill in the records more efficiently with a large block of time when students aren't in school.

"We would be more productive, rather than going in bits and pieces, and having to put them away and take them back out, because we could never leave the permanent records out in the open," she said.

She and other teachers suggested a two-hour early dismissal each day for two days at the end of the year.

Mrs. Cummings also wondered if it might improve student attendance the last week to know they wouldn't have to stay in school all day.

But Edwin Davis, director of pupil services, said attendance is always poorest on early dismissal days.

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