Elmbrook wants feedback on grade school report cards

You can take the online survey here. (This survey, like others the district does to sway opinion, is not scientific. In fact, you can take it as many times as you’d like!)

The district switched to a new grade reporting format this year. Students receive labor intensive reports without grades. Anything above 70% is considered “proficient.” The parent I heard from says it represents a “dumbing down” of America.

I’d have to agree.

Also of concern is the district’s request to do without a Spring (correction) parent/teacher conference in order to save time.


  1. There is not enough room on this blog for me to tell you how little I think of the new report cards.

    It is pointless to spend all of this time/effort/money on a standards-based report card in the elem. schools (and possibly middle schools) only to revert back to the old grading method at the high school level. Yes, of course there is talk of transitioning it into the HS level as well…but that would mean you would have to get the entire university system (nation-wide) to buy into it…which will NEVER happen. If it was going to, it would have done so already – because (as Elmbrook likes to warn) other districts have been using this type of report card for years.

    Not only is it the dumbing down of students…it is the dumbing-down of parents, to boot! The report card tells you very little about your child’s actual abilities/deficits/progress.

  2. Cindy, can you tell us where you found the information regarding 70%= proficient? That’s a disturbing number.

    Dan, I think the intent was to help parents track student progress toward end-of-year goals. There are still some significant flaws in the format and implementation, but they are working on it. I think the survey is part of that effort. By the way, competitive games are alive and well on Elmbrook playgrounds. 🙂

  3. 70% is from an anonymous source – I believe the actual assumption is “not failing” and that would be D level work, or about 70%.

    If the source wants to clarify, I’ll post it. Of course, if the district wants to clarify, that can stand, too.

  4. Dan, it’s my understanding the district has ALREADY eliminated a grade system. They want feedback about how it is working.

  5. They already have in the elementary grades. Your child now receives a BG (for “Beginning”), a DV (for “Developing”), a PR (for “Proficient” or an EX (“for Exceeds”)…although they have yet to determine how “EX” will actually be used, since they do not currently have measures to test beyond-grade level performance. The idea is that your child should be measured only by his/her progress…not against the progress of peers.

    One of the problems, is that the labels “BG” and “DV” simply cover too wide a spectrum of skill levels. It is a catch-all. Another problem, is that in the real world you WILL be measured against the progress of others. Without understanding how your progress relates to the progress of those around you, it is very difficult to actually gage your own level of achievement and take the necessary steps to maintain or improve.

    Here is an illustration that I used with School Board member, Tom Gehl:

    Imagine there are two salesman – Mr. A., and Mr. B.

    Mr. A. increases his sales by 25% from January to February. Mr. B., on the other hand, increases HIS sales by 40% during the same time frame. You could say that both are “Developing”…but who is more likely to earn a raise at the end of the quarter, or keep his job in the event of a downsizing? Furthermore, it is entirely possible that Mr. A. would have worked harder to increase his sales even more than 25% if he had simply known that his competition was achieving 40%. Mr. A. may have been entirely capable of reaching that goal – but didn’t know it was necessary. Mr. A.’s achievement was actually stifled when the competitive element was removed.

    Interestingly enough, the district’s Parent Network presented a lecture last month addressing the detrimental results of removing this type of competitiveness from society. The lecture (and corresponding book) presented evidence suggesting that, in a similar way to the illustration above, we are stifling our children’s emotional and educational progress by adopting this “everyone gets a trophy” mentality.

  6. I don’t think it’s supposed to be about hurting feelings dan, it’s about being more specific on where your kid is in development. Nonetheless I think the A,B,C,D,F should stick and there should be great explanation for why.

    Also, let’s not forget that doing this puts a lot more of a workload on teachers…if you have 250 students that’s 250 pages of comments you now have to come up with every quarter. I think it’s a little work intensive.

  7. Something doesn’t seem right there, Cindy. I wonder if your source was talking about WKCE or some other open-ended test. WKCE also uses the term “proficient” and the criteria is redefined on an annual basis. I could believe 70% on that one.

  8. We’re checking it out. And it does sound a lot like WKCE.

  9. Here’s the district policy.

    So now I have a question – is the mushy system for K-5 or K-2?

  10. You’re right Shawn, it is a lot of work. On one hand, teachers have to keep track of all those details anyway. On the other hand, they have to spend a lot of extra time explaining them to me because the report card doesn’t communicate much–not even what is intended, really.

  11. That document appears to be out of date. The old report cards for k-2 were as described. The new report cards came into play with this school year and are for k-5.

  12. Golly, you mean the published policy isn’t the one that’s being followed?

    It says “revised 1/2006” which would have been in time for the 2007/2008 school year.

  13. The new report card was piloted last year for gr. 3-5, and adopted for use beginning this current school year.

  14. Yeah, I noticed that. Can’t explain it. Maybe there isn’t a new policy yet because the new report card is still subject to revision. Maybe it’s just wrong.