Parents in the Sioux Falls School district might want to do so some homework before heading to parent-teacher conferences. That's because this year's student report cards are all new.
Beth Graham's Oscar Howe elementary fifth graders learn the basics every day in her classroom. Year after year, teachers deal with changing curriculums along with the changing trends in education. And now you can add one more change: the grading system.
"It's helped me really look at what my kids need to know. Do they know it? Are they almost there, but maybe had a minor error in understanding? Or do they get the idea, but there are still some glitches?" Graham said.
Gone are the days of single-letter grades. As parents head to their child's conferences beginning Thursday night, they will see new report cards. Multiple grades for each subject broken down by study areas.
"So what I can do is talk with parents and say, 'Your child did well in this area and that area. And this is an area weakness we'll continue to work on,'" Graham said.
Graham says if this new system seems like more work, it is. Especially for teachers, some of whom are struggling. But Graham says the system helps her target each student's strengths and weaknesses more accurately than previous years. It also goes a step beyond subject matter and offers an area on each student's learning behaviors too.
"We can say, 'Your child is getting good grades, but sometimes with a challenge or new problem, they don't necessarily want to stick with it. They want to wait and have someone else come up with a strategy and don't want to persevere,' so it gives parents a good picture," Graham said.
Because a better picture just could lead to better students, which is exactly what administrators hope happens through this change.
You can expect your child's teacher to discuss the changes with you at parent teacher conferences held Thursday night, next Monday and Thursday evenings.