High schools await standards-based reporting | PostIndependent.com

High schools await standards-based reporting

Suzie Romig
RFSD Public Information Officer

By this fall, a redesigned system of education will be fully in play in all grade levels in the Roaring Fork School District.

It’s called standards-based education, and although it represents major change in decades of traditional educational theory, the idea is simple – making student learning the number one priority.

Sparked by a national movement toward standards-based education, the RFSD began developing and progressively implementing standards-based ideas eight years ago.

The last piece of the process, grading and reporting, has been in effect at the elementary schools for two years and began at the middle schools this academic year. The grading and reporting changes will roll into the three large district high schools next school year.

Implementing standards-based education has placed the RFSD in a position of instructional leadership on the Western Slope. Colorado Department of Education officials say the district is on the forefront in developing computerized standards-based report cards and in sharing best practices with other area districts.

“When standards-based education is fully implemented in all the grades, it will produce consistently high results for all children in the school district. The process raises the bar,” noted Morris Danielson, CDE regional manager for northwestern Colorado. “The process the RFSD uses is firm, fair and balanced.”

If a visitor were to walk into a standards-based education classroom versus visiting a classroom with traditional instruction, the differences may not be noticeable right away. Students of the old way of schooling, however, will be surprised to learn the new ways that teachers and pupils work together to make sure the students grasp the information. For example, student proficiency levels are determined by performances on tests through time, not by averaging grades. Students have multiple opportunities to learn and be assessed on consistent learning goals without an impact on final grades.

“It doesn’t disadvantage kids who are not good test takers,” said RFSD parent Valerie Vinger. “The bottom line is they need to know the information that’s being taught. And some kids can get it in one time, and other kids need three times.”

Learning behaviors, such as listening well in class, are separated into a different report card so that the actual grasp of academics is not distorted. Through reassessment contracts, students can relearn and teachers teach again until a student becomes proficient. Missing work is not factored into a student’s final grade, and Ds and Fs are no longer given.

With an advanced contract, students who already perform at proficient levels can move on to more critical thinking and higher-level skills.

“We will have less kids falling through the holes, and fast learners will not be bored,” said Paula Marr, a member of the district’s standards-based committee.

Karen Olson, a RFSD parent and administrator in Basalt, said measuring students by well-defined standards eliminates the mystery and subjectivity that can exist in teaching and grading. The new system shows kids the goals, expectations and what they can do to meet them, Olson said.

“The result is increased student ownership in the process, motivation and achievement,” Olson said. “It’s all about getting kids to learn and feel good about it.”

To receive a weekly e-mailed “Community Update” or for RFSD questions, call 384-6000 or e-mail Info@rfsd.k12.co.us.

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