Educators from all three elementary school districts and the school administration have been preparing for months for a transition from the old report card format to a new one that principals and administrators agree will better represent the progress of individual students.
The principals from Rochester Memorial, Sippican, and Center and Old Hammondtown Schools have been meeting since last year and over the summer as well to prepare teachers, parents, and students for the imminent changes, hoping that organized and coordinated outreach will better serve parents as they anticipate this year’s change in report card grading.
RMS, during its Open House on the first day of school, gave a brief introduction to the new report cards, but Principal Derek Medeiros said on August 31 during the first Rochester School Committee meeting of the year that further family outreach is needed as the date for report cards approaches.
Instead of standard letter grades, the new report cards feature progress categories in all subjects and assessment areas: ‘mastery’, ‘progressing’, ‘emerging’, and ‘not yet’ will describe the current learning level of the student, a more holistic approach for teachers to assess student progress.
Lyn Rivet, principal at Sippican School, shared that one idea to assist in helping parents understand the new report card is to extend the time for parent teacher conferences from the ten minutes allotted to 22 minutes, allowing teachers to present evidence and examples to back up the report card.
“It gives moms and dads an opportunity to ask questions about the reports cards as well,” said Rivet.
Areas on the report card such as social studies and science are expanded, and social/emotional development is also represented.
“It took a large number of people working together to build this document,” said Center School and Old Hammondtown School Principal Rose Bowman. “Is it a little scary when you do something brand new? Always.” But the Mattapoisett school district will try hard to reach as many people as possible in anticipation of the changeover, said Bowman, including another parent info night immediately after report cards are issued.
“I think the way that you handled this entire process is to be commended,” said Rochester School Committee Chairman Tina Rood, “and I think it will cause some really good conversations among parents … and teachers.”
The school districts will continue to seek further feedback from parents as well as teachers throughout the process.
This is a new initiative, said Superintendent Doug White, “Which I think is going to give all of our parents much more information on their children’s learning and how they can assist.”
In other matters, Business Administrator Patrick Spencer reported that the YMCA has pulled out of a tentative lease agreement for classroom space at RMS due to a lack of enrollment. Since that leaves a shortage of early childhood programming in Rochester, another local pre-school setting day care is considering leasing the space, pending interest in an expanded program.
The next meeting of the Rochester School Committee is scheduled for October 12 at 6:30 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.
By Jean Perry