Letter grades dropped on report cards Arundel change affects pupils to 2nd grade

June 21, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County students in prekindergarten through second grade will take home new report cards this fall without traditional categories such as spelling and handwriting and without letter grades.

After more than an hour of haggling, the county school board voted 5-1 Wednesday night to adopt a report card that uses the phrases "consistently demonstrating," "developing," "not yet demonstrating" and "needs improvement" in various skills to rate student performance.

Thomas E. Florestano was the only board member to vote against the changes, saying the "classical" system of letter grades or numerical ratings was best.

Two of the eight board members, Thomas R. Twombly and Michael A. Pace, were absent.

The new system is designed to catch up with curriculum changes that call for broader, more flexible evaluations of what students can do, according to Lothian Elementary School Principal Max Muller, who led the committee that designed the new report cards.

Parents at the meeting called the new report cards an attempt to artificially boost students' self-esteem by eliminating healthy competition for grades.

"Competition is the mechanism by which our society identifies the best and the fittest," said Michael L. Cecere III of Mayo. "Our children need to learn this from day one in school, except for [in] kindergarten."

Cecere's son just finished second grade at Central Elementary School, where the new report cards were tested this spring.

Officials are not trying to boost self-esteem with the new system, according to Muller.

"The driving force was that teachers kept complaining that the report cards did not match the curriculum changes that had been made," Muller said.

The new report cards will show, for example, whether a child can write effectively, not just whether the child can spell, he said.

Pub Date: 6/21/96

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