School board balks at new report card

May 13, 1994|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Sun Staff Writer

A new report card for middle school students that could do away with some traditional letter grades failed to pass examination of the Baltimore County school board, which wants more answers before marking the proposal OK.

The new card has a numerical rating system for "self-development and performance standards" alongside traditional letter grades in core academic subjects. It would replace a 10-year-old traditional report card that uses "A" to "E" letter grades in all subjects and satisfactory/unsatisfactory ratings in performance factors, such as behavior and homework. During a 40-minute discussion at its meeting Tuesday night, board members questioned whether letter grades should be required in only four subjects, as the faculty-parent committee recommended; whether the report card should require a parent's signature and whether the performance rating scale was adequate.

The board then delayed a vote until its May 24 meeting.

"Our committee wanted to create a report card that is distinctly different from that for elementary and high school students," said Terry Filbert, an assistant principal at Golden Ring Middle School.

Ms. Filbert and Cockeysville Middle School Principal Julie Szymaszek stressed that the heart of the proposed report card consists of the 11 performance standards, such as "respects peers and adults," "demonstrates an understanding of concepts" and "participates actively in the learning process."

Students would receive a "1," "2" or "3" for these behaviors, with "1" indicating they do so consistently, "2" often and "3" rarely. "The code allows every teacher to mark every student on a continuum of progress," Ms. Filbert said.

Student board member Julia Grossman questioned the terms used, saying there seemed to be a big gap between "often" and "rarely." If a student did his homework half the time, "would that be 'often' or 'rarely?' " she asked.

Committee members said the decision would rest with the teacher. Board members suggested adding a point to the scale to fill the gap, such as "sometimes" or "occasionally."

The new card would require letter grades in English, math, social studies and science but not in subjects such as foreign languages and music. In those areas, teachers could give letter grades or use an alternative code, which includes "S" for progressing successfully and "I" for improvement needed.

Some board members also took issue with the alternative. "There's no finality to an 'S' and 'I,' said Dunbar Brooks. "Suppose they get an 'I' at the end of the year, do they fail?"

The committee also offered an interim report to go with its more formal assessment. Sent home between the quarterly report cards, the interim report would stress the "performance standards," with academics rated simply superior, satisfactory or needs improvement.

Most middle schools use an interim report now, Ms. Szymaszek said.

The current and proposed interim reports require a parent's signature, but the quarterly report cards do not. Board members seemed to favor a signature, even if it will create bookkeeping problems in the schools.

"As the parent of a middle school child, I would cast my vote for a parent's signature," said Sanford V. Teplitzky.

The middle school report card has been evolving since last spring when the board adopted a new grading policy. In August, a committee of middle school administrators presented the board a pilot report card. The board gave principals the option of trying the pilot or staying with the traditional card; five schools are using the pilot, said Ms. Szymaszek.

NEW BALTIMORE COUNTY PRINCIPALS

New principals have been assigned to 17 Baltimore County schools for the 1994-1995 school year. The appointments, recently approved by the school board, will become effective July 1:

Elementary schools

* Colgate Elementary -- Theresa Petrungaro, from principal of McKinley Elementary in St. Cloud, Minn.

* Deer Park Elementary -- Beth M. Strauss, promoted from assistant principal at Oakleigh Elementary.

* Edgemere Elementary -- Linda T. Stanton, promoted from assistant principal at Edgemere.

* Grange Elementary -- Harry E. Belsinger, transferred from principal of Colgate Elementary.

pTC * Hillendale Elementary -- Ellen H. Rappoport, transferred from principal at Lansdowne Elementary.

* Lansdowne Elementary -- Anne Gold, promoted from assistant principal at Sandalwood Elementary.

* Middleborough Elementary -- Celeste W. Klima, promoted from assistant principal at Timber Grove Elementary.

* Padonia Elementary -- Eileen L. Copple, from principal at Lewis Open Magnet School in Wichita, Kan.

* Perry Hall Elementary -- Clare M. Kruft, promoted from assistant principal at Bear Creek Elementary.

* Winand Elementary -- Leonard I. Singleton, from principal at Wythe Elementary in Hampton, Va.

Middle schools

* Cockeysville Middle -- Marsha D. Baumeister, promoted from assistant principal at Perry Hall Middle.

* Franklin Middle -- Donna L. Smithers, transferred from coordinator of special education for the Southwest Area.

* Johnnycake Middle -- Darryl E. Bonds, from principal at Franklin Elementary in Wichita, Kan.

* Loch Raven Alternative -- Constance A. Peterson, from assistant principal at Loch Raven Middle and Alternative.

* Southeast Alternative -- Edgar S. Massey Jr., promoted from assistant principal at Holabird Middle.

High schools

* Pikesville -- Kim K. Kremer, from principal of Christiana High School, Newark, Del.

* Owings Mills -- Queen E. Collins, promoted from assistant principal, Dulaney High.

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