This year in District 58, Trimester 2 began on October 20, 2020 and will conclude on March 5, 2021. ISBE guidance for grading and reporting during the 2020-21 school year encourages districts to consider a return to grading and reporting practices, but to implement these in a manner that best meets student needs. The July, 2020 guidance recommends prioritizing “...the connectedness and care for our students and one another during these unprecedented times as we maintain the continuity of learning” and goes on to “recognize the importance of providing feedback, assessing student progress, and learning, and communicating this to students, caregivers and teachers…”
All report cards will include language that acknowledges the uniqueness of this grading period and the reality that due to the instructional model we are implementing and the constraints of teaching during a pandemic, the methods by which we can collect observational and academic evidence of student achievement are different this year. While this doesn’t prohibit teachers from sharing information on student progress nor invalidate the information they will share, it is important to recognize that certain assessment practices are involuntarily modified as a result of the learning environment.
Trimester 2 Essential Standards
As we have during each reporting period of the pandemic, District 58 teachers have purposefully reviewed the grade level standards to determine which are most critical for instruction and assessment. The list of Trimester 2 Essential Standards indicate the standards that will be assessed on the Trimester 2 Report Card.
Middle School Academic Reporting
At the middle school level, both standards and letter grades will appear for Trimester 2, as in a typical trimester report card. Though there is less synchronous instructional time overall for middle school in our current instructional model, because of the daily synchronous contact in all subject areas, teachers maintain the ability to observe student performance in all content areas. However, it is still noted (as above) that certain assessment practices are limited due to the pandemic. Middle School teachers will also assess the learning behavior of “work completion” in each content area.
Grades K-6 Academic Reporting
All of the standards listed for all grade levels in all content areas (including specials, where applicable) will be assessed using the same descriptors as are always on the report card, which are:
- 3 - Proficient - Demonstrates consistent understanding of grade level standards
- 2 - Progressing - Demonstrates inconsistent understanding of grade level standards
- 1 - Area of Concern - Demonstrates an insufficient understanding of grade level standards
- IE - Insufficient evidence to assess at this time
It is important to note that the “IE” is intended as a neutral descriptor; there is no negative connotation with this mark, but rather a recognition that there are certain circumstances - particularly during a pandemic - in which there simply is not enough evidence of student performance in a particular area available to a teacher, so that an accurate assessment of student understanding of a particular standard is not possible.
As you review the Essential Standards document for grades 1-6, you will notice an abundance of standards in Reading, Language Arts/Writing and Math and fewer standards for Science and Social Studies. In our instructional model this year, much of the instruction around science and social studies in grades 1-6 is delivered asynchronously, to ensure that students are exposed to grade level content in these areas. This is an area where we will have less formal assessment of student progress; rather, our teachers are working to ensure that students are engaging with science and social studies content and activities throughout the 2020-21 school year.
Additional information on Grades 4-6
In a typical year, we also assign letter grades for students in grades 4-6. Our community has repeatedly expressed a value in receiving letter grades, though most current research on assessment and grading would indicate that the assignment of letter grades, particularly for elementary students, is no longer rooted in best practice. Additionally, ISBE has provided pages of guidance on grading and assessment during the 2020-21 school year, including the following:
“It is important to keep in mind that students can learn without grades, yet they cannot learn without formative assessment and feedback. Meaningful, differentiated grading and assessment practices encourage dialogue among practitioners and students in individual and collaborative settings. Grading and assessment are ongoing and related to student learning and growth. The advisory group, in collaboration with ISBE, emphasizes flexibility and responsiveness to students’ needs as a priority.” - ISBE Fall Learning Recommendations, p.25
For the second trimester of the 2020-21 school year in grades 4-6, the report card will include the following:
Grade 5 and 6
- Letter grades assigned for Reading, Math, Language Arts/Writing.
- Standards marked for Science* and Social Studies, Art, Music and P.E.
Students in grades 5 and 6 have already experienced receiving letter grades, so in the areas of greatest synchronous instruction during this trimester, we would assign those letter grades as a summary of achievement. Because science and social studies instruction has been delivered primarily asynchronously, we believe that it will be accurate to report on the standard, but the perceived “weight” of a summative letter grade is not appropriate during this trimester, as we would not have the same body of summative evidence as in a typical year. This approach allows us to acknowledge student work and achievement in a way that reflects what we can fully observe within the current instructional model.
*Based upon the sequence of instruction in Trimester 2, 5th grade will formally assess Social Studies only during Trimester 2, and Science only during Trimester 3.
- Standards marked for all content areas; no letter grades assigned
Students in grade 4 have never received letter grades. In the same way that there is a perceived value behind letter grades, there is also a disproportionate “weight” at times; a student receiving less than an “A” for the first time often requires significant conversation to help students maintain a strong sense of self-worth regarding their achievement. In a typical year, fourth grade teachers take time out of their instructional days to have these kinds of conversations with students, before and after the receipt of report cards. This year, there are so many unique student needs that we believe introducing letter grades in this moment is not in the best interest of our students. Rather, in keeping with the ISBE guidance, we want our formal reporting for these students to reflect authentic communication that can help students and families recognize current levels of achievement relative to standards without the added weight of the summative letter grade.
These changes are the result of teaching and learning during a pandemic, and are not intended to be in effect beyond the time we are within that scenario. Any permanent change to the formal academic reporting processes in District 58 would occur through committee work and after soliciting input from our families.
Grades 1-6 Learner Behaviors
The Trimester 2 report cards will include assessment of the following student learner behaviors:
- Demonstrates respect for peers and staff
- Demonstrates organizational skills
- Actively participates in class
- Demonstrates Commitment to their own learning (in each content area)
These are also assessed with a 3/2/1/IE scale; as teachers evaluate these behaviors, they also understand and account for students’ individual citations during the pandemic, ensuring, for example, that we are not assessing asynchronous or offsite environmental factors that may be outside of a child’s control.
Any questions about assessment and reporting in District 58 can be directed to Justin Sisul, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at either firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-719-5867.