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Elementary/K-8 Schools

Components of a Standards-Based System

There are four essential components of a standards-based teaching, learning, assessment and reporting system:

  • Content Standards – describe what a student should know and be able to do at a given grade level.
  • Standards-based Curriculum – the teaching plan to ensure that Instruction targets the content standards.
  • Assessments – measurements to see if students have met the content standards for their grade level.
  • Standards-based Report Card – allows teachers to communicate a student’s progress on content standards at specific points in the year.

The standards-based Report Card does not give a traditional letter grade (A, B, C, D, U). Instead, proficiency levels are given for each standard taught and assessed during that marking period.

Academic Proficiency Scale

  • AD - Advanced
  • PR - Proficient
  • BA - Basic
  • MI - Minimal
Definitions of Proficiency Levels

Elementary students have three standards-based reporting periods. For the first two reporting periods, students are evaluated based on expected progress at that particular point in the school year. Students who receive a “PR” or “Proficient” are performing at the level expected for their grade level at this point in the school year. Students receiving “BA” or “Basic” are performing below the level expected for their grade level at this point in the school year.

In the third and final reporting period, the Report Card proficiency level reflects a student’s achievement of grade-level standards in all content areas. The grading scale aligns with proficiency levels used on the Badger 3–8 Exam: Wisconsin’s Smarter Balanced Assessment. Proficiency levels are defined as:

  • Advanced (AD) - The student consistently exceeds grade-level expectations on standards as demonstrated by a body of evidence that shows depth of understanding and flexible application of grade-level concepts.
  • Proficient (PR) - The student consistently meets grade-level expectations on standards as demonstrated by a body of evidence that shows independent understanding and application of grade-level concepts.
  • Basic (BA) - The student performs just below grade-level expectations on standards as demonstrated by a body of evidence that shows incomplete/inconsistent understanding and application of gradelevel concepts.
  • Minimal (MI) - The student performs far below grade-level expectations on standards as demonstrated by a body of evidence that shows limited understanding and application of grade-level concepts.
Special Student Populations and the Standards-based Report Card

Students with Special Needs

All students must be graded according to grade level standards, in line with their peers, on the grade level report card. Proficiency levels given on the new Standards-based Report Card must be based on expectations for that grade level. This means any student performing below grade level CANNOT receive a PR-Proficient or AD-Advanced in any content area, including reading. For students with special needs, the IEP Progress Report informs parents about their child’s progress toward IEP goals and is included with the mailing of every report card. Students whose IEP includes modified standards will receive an alternate report card based on Common Core Essential Elements (CCEE). See the specific handbook that accompanies the CCEE report card.

Early Childhood Scale and Explanation

Students in grades K3 and K4 are assessed based on the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS). Students are evaluated based on expected developmentally appropriate progress at that particular point in the school year. In other words, students who receive a “3” or “Usually” are performing at the level expected for their grade level at this point in the school year. Students receiving “2” or “Sometimes” are performing below the level expected for their grade level at this point in the school year.

Students in the Bilingual Program

Students in the Bilingual Program are Spanish-speaking students working to achieve the skills of understanding, speaking, reading and writing in two languages, one of which is English. The goal is greater success in Spanish and English, along with the understanding of customs and values of the cultures associated with the two languages being taught. The premise is to foster continued development and retention of a child’s literacy skills in their native language and to utilize the language as a vehicle for exploring and acquiring a second language.

Students in the Bilingual program are graded according to grade-level standards in line with their peers on the grade-level report card. There will be an additional line in the reading section that states, “Your child has transitioned to reading in English” with a Yes or No indicator.

English Language Learners (ELL)

Milwaukee Public Schools recognizes the continuum of language development within the four areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing with six English language proficiency levels. These levels describe a learner’s progression from knowing little to no English to acquiring the English skills necessary to be successful in an English-only mainstream classroom without extra support. Students’ English language proficiency levels fall within this continuum.

  • Level 1: Entering
  • Level 2: Beginning
  • Level 3: Developing
  • Level 4: Expanding 
  • Level 5: Bridging
  • Level 6: Reaching

All English Language Learners (ELL) must acquire the English skills necessary for academic success and ultimately for success in a global, multicultural and multilingual society. Consequently, ELL students are graded according to grade level standards in line with their peers on the grade level report card.

Students Learning a World Language

World Language Courses are designed to prepare students for citizenship in a multicultural, multilingual global community. These courses promote proficiency in languages along with knowledge of cultures and literature. The standards in world language courses include:

  • Interpersonal — active negotiation of meaning among individuals
  • Interpretive-Reading — interpretation of meaning, including cultural, that occur in reading
  • Interpretive-Listening — interpretation of meaning, including cultural, that occur in listening
  • Presentational-Writing — creation of written messages that facilitates interpretation by an audience
  • Presentational-Speaking — creation of oral messages that facilitates interpretation by an audience
How To Read Key Parts of the Report Card

The report card lists the standards within each subject/content area. On the Standards-based Report Card, students do not receive an overall grade in each subject/content area, but instead are graded on each standard.

Click on the image below to enlarge.

How to read key parts of the report card - Elementary/K-8 Schools

Additional content areas and the Personal/Social Development section are on page two of the Report Card along with teacher comments for each of the three marking periods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did MPS change to a Standards-based Report Card?

MPS is aligning classroom instruction, evaluation and feedback to the rigorous and more challenging Common Core State Standards to improve teaching and learning. The Standards-based Report Card reflects Common Core State Standards and provides meaningful, standards-specific assessment and feedback to engage students and families in monitoring student progress.

The Standards-based Report Card allows MPS to communicate with parents and students about grade level standards. It identifies student progress levels with regard to the standards and identifies areas of strength and weakness where additional time and effort are needed to meet expectations at a particular point in the school year. The report card helps students, teachers and families to transition to the Common Core State Standards language and expectations.

Other efforts to embrace Common Core State Standards include classroom assessments based on standards, student and parent conferences and MAP, the district’s universal screener/benchmark assessment, to support more instruction and identify students for additional supports. These strategies create opportunities for individual instructors and groups of teachers to reflect on student learning and their own practice and use.

How did MPS include parent and teacher feedback in the process?

Focus groups and surveys of teachers and parents were used to collect data from pilot schools and these responses guided revisions. Parents reported high levels of satisfaction with the amount and type of information.

Is MPS the only district making the change to a Standards-based Report Card?

Many large districts across the nation are pursuing Standards-based Report Cards, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado; San Diego, California; and local districts such as Shorewood and Wauwatosa.

Will some groups of students be graded differently on this Report Card?

The MPS commitment is to teach each child to achieve the same high standards. Therefore, the proficiency levels given on the Standards-based Report Card must be consisistent with expectations for that grade level for all students (including students with special needs and English Language Learners). This means any student performing below grade level cannot receive a PR–Proficient or AD–Advanced in any content area, including reading.

  • AD: Advanced, exceeding grade level expectations
  • PR: Proficient, meeting grade level expectations
  • BA: Basic, just below grade level expectations
  • MI: Minimal, far below grade level expectations
How will the report card show the effort a child is giving to school work?

An Effort line has been added to show student work habits in each subject area. This allows teachers to keep nonacademic factors (neatness, promptness, work completion, etc.) separate from the academic assessment for each standard. Teachers can indicate high effort for struggling students or low effort for high performing students. Each student will receive a mark for Effort in each content area (except physical education). Teachers will use the same proficiency levels for both academics and efforts.

  • AD: Advanced
  • PR: Proficient
  • BA: Basic
  • MI: Minimal
Are there any other scales used on this report card and what do they mean?

The Personal/Social Development section is aligned to the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) system used in MPS schools to reward students for making good choices. It uses a frequency scale to report on how often students are choosing positive classroom behaviors.

For K3/K4 and some areas of the K5 Report Card the frequency scale is used to show developmental progress on Wisconsin Early Learning Model Standards.

Here is the Frequency Scale:

  • 1 — Seldom
  • 2 — Sometimes
  • 3 — Usually
  • 4 — Always/Exemplary

Please contact your child’s school if you have additional questions.

© Milwaukee Public Schools 2017
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