Making sense of your child’s report card

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Across The City this week, thousands of elementary school parents are meeting with teachers to discuss their children’s report cards. While report cards are a time-honored way of informing parents and students about their progress in school, here at the San Francisco Unified School District we have a modern twist on the old-school tradition. We call it the Standards-Based Report Card.

The SFUSD’s Standards-Based Report Card makes sure a student’s progress is being measured the same way for every child.

In education, a standard simply means the thing students need to know — and be able to do — by the end of the school year in each grade. An example would be the task of reading a piece of text and answering questions about it. If children are doing this well, their number on the report card will be a 3 or 4. If they’re struggling with this skill right now, or they’re getting closer to reaching the standard but aren’t there quite yet, the number would be a 1 or 2.

Here are some other things you will see in your child’s elementary school report card:

Reading foundational skills is a set of basic skills necessary to be an effective reader. A P means proficiency (your child can do this well, and has mastered this skill). An N indicates your child needs more time to develop this skill, and may still develop mastery by the end of the school year.

Performance in physical education, fine arts, social development and work habits: The teacher will use the letters O, S or N to indicate outstanding, satisfactory or needs time to develop.

This year’s report card includes new standards for students who are learning English. If your child receives specialized English-language development instruction, then he or she will receive an additional score. These new scores are: EM for emerging, EX for expanding or BR for bridging.

Your child’s report card provides an opportunity for families, students and teachers to work together.

At your parent-teacher conference, you’ll want to ask your child’s teacher about all of the accomplishments and challenges your child is facing in school. Celebrate successes and work on solutions to your child’s challenges. You might be surprised by some of the easy ways you can help your child with learning.

Earlier I mentioned that the report cards are standards-based. California, like many states, is moving toward a new set of common-core standards, which are designed to prepare our students better for college and career success in the 21st century. The skills listed in language arts, math and science on our report card reflects these new national standards.

Richard A. Carranza is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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