New report cards launched at W.O. Parmer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 13, 2003

Report cards are changing for some area students, a move recently approved by the Butler County Board of Education.

W.O. Parmer principal Carol Teague, who spearheaded the committee that researched the new report cards, said the students’ progress will be reflected on the new report cards using a skills-based benchmarking system.

&uot;The report cards will show parents what the students are actually studying, so they can get more detailed information than can be gotten with just a subject grade, as was the case with the former cards we used,&uot; Teague said. &uot;The subject is broken down into the various skills associated with each subject, and the student is assessed on each skill.&uot;

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For example, rather than getting one grade on reading, the student will instead be assessed on vocabulary, reading comprehension and word identification, and the card will indicate whether or not the child achieved that skill during the nine weeks.

&uot;This system targets the areas of strength and weakness so the parents can identify them and give the children the extra help they need,&uot; the principal said. &uot;Although the children are assessed at each nine-week period, they have until the end of the year to reach all benchmarks.&uot;

But the children have to benchmark in all areas on the report card at the end of the year in order to move up to the next grade, she said.

Education officials are optimistic about the system, and what it can do to improve student performance.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Reed gave his full support to the system’s introduction.

&uot;The elementary teachers came to me, saying they were dissatisfied with the grade reporting system we had before,&uot; Reed said. &uot;I suggested they look into the benchmarking system because I had used it in other school systems where I was superintendent, and we had great success with it.&uot;

Reed asked Teague to set up a steering committee to research the system and recommend a system that would work for Butler County.

&uot;I wanted this to be county-wide, so we have included teachers and administrators from each school in the county,&uot; he said. &uot;It has taken almost three years for us to get to this phase. The committee did a thorough job of investigating the system.&uot;

Teague said that her committee’s research included conferences with area schools’ faculties and parents, as well as work with the Eufaula school system, which uses the benchmarking system.

&uot;Eufaula has had great success with the new report cards, so we know it works,&uot; she said.

Reed said he plans to ask the board to implement the system in grades 3-6 in the near future.

&uot;Now we have the format and the foundation set so we can form a committee to get the system in place for grades 3-6 by the end of the year,&uot; he said.

Reed said the main benefit for the new system is getting the parents involved in helping children improve their skills.

&uot;I see it as a positive step forward for our children,&uot; he said. &uot;This report card will be much more readily understandable than a card that simply have a grade on them. The system will also help parents work with teachers better.

Board member Frank Thigpen is also enthusiastic about the new system.

&uot;I think the system will be beneficial,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s designed to help a parent identify what parts of a subject their child isn’t understanding. I think this system will help parents get more in tune with their child’s weaknesses and hope it gets them more involved with helping them improve.&uot;

Thigpen said the school board hasn’t met to decide on expanding the system to other grades, but it has been discussed.

&uot;We know that the teachers want to expand it,&uot; he said. &uot;If it does well in the K-2 levels, I don’t think there will be any questions about our moving it up into the other grades.&uot;

The report card (promotion-retention) committee members were Sheila Brooks-Georgiana High School, Mary Christ-R.L. Austin, Gayle Gafford-Greenville Elementary, Kim Owens-Greenville Middle School, Doris Peagler-W.O. Parmer, Melissa Peagler-McKenzie High School, Margaret Phillips-W.O. Parmer, Carole Teague-W.O. Parmer, and Carol Williams-McKenzie High School.