Pre-K through grade 2 report cards will not carry letter grades this fall

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

Anne Arundel County students in pre-kindergarten 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 Anne Arundel 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 is better. Board members Thomas R. Twombly and Michael A. Pace were absent. There are eight on the board.

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 panel that designed the new report cards.

But 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."

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

In other action, the board adopted a "three-strikes-and-you're-out" discipline code that allows principals to suspend students who are sent to the office three times in one marking period.

Pub Date: 6/21/96

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