Members of Naperville School District 203 have contradicting opinions on the standards based reporting system which has been gradually implemented over the past few years.
The goal of standards based reporting is to provide a “more clear communication about a student’s strengths and opportunities for growth,” Jackie Thornton, assistant principal of curriculum, said. In using standards based grading, “...the teachers of a course determine the reporting standards and a mark or a grade for each one of those standards is communicated.” The administration hopes to implement this system for all students in the future, but it presents several major problems.
“It’s been a very big undertaking at the middle school level and so the discussions of what it might look like at the high school level started two years ago and are now kind of on pause,” Thornton said. “We still need to report a GPA and we still need to have an understandable transcript that colleges use for admission purposes,” Thornton lists as the obstacles regarding the system’s implementation at the high school level.
These obstacles, in addition to problems noticed during piloting, have made a specific timeline impossible to announce. The administration must resolve these problems before a plan for implementation for eighth graders and high school students can be created.
“At this time a decision has not been made about timing of implementation [at the high school level]” Thornton said. She adds that the administration are waiting for parent feedback from middle school parents before moving forward.
Amy Fewkes, a parent of three students in the district, does not think that the goal of clearer communication about a student’s achievements has entirely been reached.
“I think [administrators] need to figure out a better way to convey the score instead of just stapling two pieces of paper to each assignment,” Fewkes said. “If they got a three, was that the highest they could have gotten or could they have gotten a four?” Fewkes asks in reference to the fact that a score of four can not always be achieved.
Sarah Koo, a student at Naperville Central High School, has a similar opinion about the idea of a new grading system.
“I don’t know what a three would be equivalent to,” Koo said. She adds that getting a low score for a subject with standards based grading may be less motivation for a student to improve.
“F stands for fail. It’s right in your face. F. Fail. It’s bad. One… could mean anything really,” Koo said.
While it seems that parents and students do not necessarily believe that this system is helpful in more clearly communicating a student’s progress, some administrative leaders do not believe our current system is effective either.
“The problem with using one letter, one mark, to communicate so much information is that we are not very clearly communicating anything” Thornton said. From an administrative standpoint, the implementation of standards based grading will help to solve this problem.