Del Mar school district gives new Common Core report cards higher than passing marks

By Karen Billing

The Del Mar Union School District board applauded the district for its work in developing a Common Core State Standards report card that seems to be a grade above the rest. At the board’s Aug. 27 board meeting, Shelley Petersen, assistant superintendent of instructional services, gave an update on the new report cards, tweaked slightly from their original version last year.

Petersen said adjustments were made to last year’s content and formatting as a result of continuous feedback.

“These have been very positively received by teachers and the community,” Petersen said.

The report card is now down to two pages rather than three. Petersen said the language was cleared up, aligning more “gracefully” from one grade level to the next. There was also a change in how writing skills are represented, broken down into genres such as narrative and opinion pieces, rather than being just a one-line item.

Students are graded in categories of learning and behavioral outcomes, mathematics, reading, writing, language, social studies and science, fine arts and PE.

The scoring key is:

“E”: Student performance consistently and independently exceeds grade level expectations with accuracy and high level of quality.

“S”: Student is secure and meets grade level expectations.

“D”: Student performance is developing steadily toward grade level expectations.

“B”: Student performance is beginning to progress toward grade level expectations.

Petersen said the teachers’ greatest difficulty was determining what an “E” looks like. The district developed new toolkits to support the teachers’ full implementation of the Common Core State Standards — the sizable binders include assessments, scoring rubrics and content maps. A proficiency level descriptor is written for every academic line item on the report card, describing what a student needs to achieve for a B, D, S or E.

“I’m proud of this toolkit,” Petersen said. “I don’t think you will find another report card like ours. I don’t know if other districts have toolkits of this caliber … Our district is referred to in the county as trailblazing the way through Common Core.”

Trustee Alan Kholos asked how the parents reacted to the new report cards last year.

“We did not hear complaints about report cards last year,” Petersen said. “Most of the comments were about mathematics and how to support children with instruction in the home, because it looked so different from what they were accustomed to.”

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