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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 15, 2006

State delaying new report card

By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Education Writer

The rollout of standards-based report cards for public secondary schools has been delayed by four years to allow more input from community focus groups and a task force developing the cards, a Department of Education official said yesterday.

The decision follows a rocky launch of standards-based cards in the state's regular elementary schools this year. Yesterday's announcement does not affect elementary schools.

"This is a huge change and we have to make sure people understand what we're doing," said Kathy Kawaguchi, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and student support.

"It made sense to continue the dialogue and include more people."

Originally the DOE hoped to implement a new secondary school standards-based report card in 2008-09. That has now been changed to the 2012-13 school year, with the cards being piloted in 2009-10.

If the new timeline is maintained, next year's kindergarten class of 2006-07 would become the first class to go all the way through school with standards-based education and standards-based report cards.

"To truly measure standards-based education, the report card should be implemented with next year's kindergarten class," Kawaguchi told a Board of Education committee yesterday in announcing the new timeline.

"Then we have an even implementation at the same time."

Currently only elementary schools are using a new standards-based report card that was developed beginning in 2000 and launched at the beginning of this school year.

But the cards got off to a rough start, with the Hawai'i State Teachers Association complaining about a variety of problems, including the cumbersome quality of the cards, the length of time they took to complete and vagueness in the grading system.

After negotiations with the department, six schools chose to retain the traditional cards until next year, and the union became deeply involved in changes that will be made to the elementary cards for the 2007-08 school year, as well as development of standards-based cards for the secondary schools.

To help with transition during the second half of this school year, the department offered several thousand dollars for extra clerical support to each school.

Among other things, the report card task force will be looking at how the grading system will be developed for the secondary card and is now considering a 4-point grading scale that will be under discussion in focus groups. This is intended to help address concerns about transferring schools and going on to college.

Besides aligning with Hawai'i's standards-based education, the new cards also would eliminate the traditional A, B, C grading system for ME, MP, N and U. But until the new secondary cards are actually implemented, the traditional A, B, Cs will continue in use at the secondary level.

Under a 4-point grading scale, 4 would equal Meets with Excellence; 3 would equal Meets Proficiency; 2 would equal Approaches Proficiency; and 1 would equal Well Below Proficiency.

Two and below would be considered not a passing grade.

Kawaguchi said that by then she expects the department will be able to define with pinpoint accuracy what the student has not learned, and would be able to connect individual students to remedial education either before or after school, online or during school breaks to bring them up to proficiency in the area where they're lacking.

Reach Beverly Creamer at bcreamer@honoluluadvertiser.com.