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NCSS revises kindergarten, first grade report cards
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Kenneth Proctor, co-director of pre-k through fifth grade curriculum for the Newton County School System, outlined revisions to kindergarten and first grade report cards at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting.

Proctor explained changes were implemented to reflect Georgia Performance Standards, encourage teachers to assign grades based on those standards and foster consistency in grading.

He said the new report cards should provide students, parents and teachers with clear expectations of what a child is to learn throughout the year in a certain grade level.

"This was really the important concept we hammered all year long," Proctor said.

Students will now receive marks for many more criteria than before. Before first grade students were graded on 38 different skills they needed to perform. First graders will now be graded on 57 different skills.

Categories of skill sets last year included reading, language arts, spelling, handwriting, mathematics, social studies, science/health, art, music, physical education, work habits/social development.

Categories now include reading, writing, research, listening/speaking/viewing, number sense and operations, geometry, measurement, data analysis and probability, process skills, science process skills, health and personal safety, art, music, physical education, duties and responsibilities of citizenship, cultures/people/places/environments, organizing and interpreting data and personal and interpersonal skills.

Part of the increase in the graded skill sets comes from the expansion of the social studies and science categories.

Last year first grade students received one mark each quarter for all skill sets contained by the subject.

Social studies skills now include the use of proper etiquette during the pledge/national anthem, the ability to identify symbols of the United States and their meaning, the ability to identify events as past, present or future, the ability to compare the daily lives/customs of children in North America and the ability to use maps and globes as sources of information.

Science/Health skills now include asking essential questions, making predictions, making observations and drawing conclusions, exploring the use of scientific tools and instruments, demonstrating and understanding of healthy living and demonstrating an understanding of personal safety.

How students are graded has changed too.

"We did away with the old S, N and U although we have something that is very similar," Proctor said.

Teachers will grade students on a scale of 1 to 3 on academic achievements, with 3 meaning exceeding standards, 2 meeting standards, 1 not meeting standards and block meaning skill not assessed at the time.

Proctor explained this is a shift toward emulating how students are assessed on the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests students in second through eighth grades take in the spring and students in third, fifth and eighth grades must pass to advance to the next grade level.

The kindergarten report cards also have adopted the new numeric system of grading and include more graded skill sets so parents can know exactly where their child's strengths and weaknesses lie.

Proctor said the changes will help teachers and parents identify at-risk students who are in danger of being retained in their grade.

These changes stemmed from suggestions made by steering committees composed of teachers on all grade levels and administrators. Less significant changes were made to second through fifth grade report cards as well, but during the next two years will move toward standards-based progress assessment.

Proctor added permanent record cards have been revised to reflect the grading changes and that copies of each report card will be placed in the student's permanent record file.

"We're really excited about that work," Proctor said.

In other news from Tuesday night's meeting:

• The board approved the sale of the 2.68-acre Bailey Track, located southeast of the construction site of the new schools on Salem Road, to the Georgia Transmission Corporation for use by Snapping Shoals EMC. Construction could not extend past a power line, so the plot was placed on the market. The sale fetched $83,080 for the system.

• Friday night high school football will soon begin. Newton plays their first home game against Eastside at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 31. Alcovy will play their first home game against Newton at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 7.