Report card revise in works

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Report cards for Clovis elementary students may get more detailed, according to Clovis Municipal Schools administrators.

Administrators said they are testing the water for new report cards that reflect state standards and benchmarks.

A report card revision would allow “parents to see how their children are actually performing,” CMS Director of Community Relations David Briseno said.

Clovis teachers began brainstorming new report cards last year. A pilot program to introduce revised report cards to elementary parents and teachers is also under way, according to CMS Director of Instruction Cindy Martin.

The goal is a report card that is user-friendly and informational, Martin said.

“It’s always good to keep parents informed of student progress,” Martin said.

State standards and benchmarks determine important areas of study for New Mexico students.

For instance, New Mexico graduates should: Demonstrate proficiency in the English language; develop an understanding of cultures and become competent in at least one language in addition to English; and understand and apply language arts, math, science, arts, languages, health and physical education, and career readiness, according to a sample of standards posted on the New Mexico Public Education Department Web site.

New Mexico schools should also promote positive self-concept, personal responsibility, good health, respect for the environment and democratic principles in its students, the Web site reads.

“Teachers use the standards and benchmarks as a basis for their instruction. To have the report card reflect those standards is a good thing so parents can have some kind of understanding of how their children are being assessed,” said Mesa Elementary Principal Jan Cox, who is aiding in the design of new report cards.

At some schools this year and last, pilot versions of new report cards were issued, primarily in kindergarten and first-grade, according to Martin.

Those report cards are more detailed than traditional report cards. They rate student performance in state benchmarks by proficiency: Students are rated as exceeding proficiency, proficient, at basic proficiency, nearing proficiency, or there is an indication that the benchmark has not been taught in class yet, according to CMS Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm.

Parental and teacher feedback on those versions was sought.

Responses varied, according to school administrators. Some parents indicated the report cards were too complex, Martin said. And some teachers indicated they were too cumbersome.

Another pilot version will be issued at certain schools Jan. 12, according to Martin.
Seidenwurm said there is no time frame for the adoption or rejection of new report cards.

“We want teachers to be comfortable with it,” she said.

Content and appearance of report cards vary from district to district because such matters are decided locally, according to New Mexico Secretary of Education Veronica Garcia.

Garcia said there has been a flurry of discussion in the state about report card revisions, but ultimately boards of education decide what report card they think is best, she said.

“I think that report cards need to reflect what students are learning. We are expecting our students to meet certain standards and benchmarks that align with tests we have the students take,” Garcia said.

Garcia said she supports report cards that “come closer to (reflecting) what we are asking our students to do in this day and age, as opposed to only a letter grade.”