Common Core skills highlighted in new report cards for Mt. Laurel elementary schools

Common Core curriculum has transformed how students have learned in Mt. Laurel schools.

Now, Common Core is the impetus behind a revised elementary school report card in the district.

At last night’s Board of Education meeting, the Mt. Laurel School District unveiled new report cards for elementary school students that include categories aligning directly with skills listed in the Common Core curriculum.

Curriculum supervisor Sheila Miller said when the old report cards were reviewed, there were glaring differences between it and the Common Core.

“The biggest area of weakness was it was not aligned to the Common Core,” Miller said.

During the summer, the school district formed a committee representing teachers from every elementary school as well as at least two teachers from each grade level. The №1 priority was changing the categories to line up with the skills outlined in Common Core, including changing and re-phrasing the wording to make it properly aligned, but also user-friendly for parents.

“We were looking to be very inclusive and include all of the Common Core standards,” Miller said.

The new report cards will look different from the old ones in a number of ways. The new version is considerably longer thanks to the number of objectives and categories added. Miller said the new report card is about twice the size of the old one.

A new section for reading level was also added. Each student’s reading level will be included for each marking period, making it easier for parents to track their child’s progress.

During the redesign process, other school districts’ report cards were reviewed to see where Mt. Laurel could make changes. The district also reached out for feedback throughout the process and said it has been overwhelmingly positive.

However, some board members said this wasn’t a bad thing. After looking at the template, board member Marc Jones said the new grid is much easier to read than the old one and the categories are very self-explanatory. The new report card also runs in just one column rather than two.

To avoid making too many changes at one time, the district will keep the same grading system used in the old report cards, with students receiving a letter grade for subjects and a number grade or satisfactory remark for sub-categories.

“We didn’t want to do too much change at one time,” Miller said.

When the new report cards are sent home for the first time, a template will be included to guide parents through the new design. Miller said parents will also have the opportunity to ask specific questions during parent-teacher conferences.

The report card changes are only for Kindergarten through fourth grade. No changes have been announced for middle school report cards.