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High 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 in a given course
  • 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 in their course
  • Standards-based Report Card – allows teachers to communicate a student’s progress on content standards at specific points in the semester. The standards-based Report Card also includes traditional letter grades (A, B, C, D, U). Proficiency levels are also 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

High school students have four standards-based reporting periods. The first reporting period in a semester, students are evaluated based on expected progress at that particular point in the course. Students who receive a “PR” or “Proficient” are performing at the level expected in that course at that point. Students receiving “BA” or “Basic” are performing below the level expected in that course at that point.

In the second and final reporting period, the Report Card proficiency level reflects a student’s achievement of all course standards. The combination of these proficiency levels results in the student’s traditional grade in the course of A,B,C,D, or U. Proficiency levels are defined as:

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

Students with Special Needs

All students must be graded according to course standards, in line with their peers. Proficiency levels given on the new Standards-based Report Card must be based on expectations for that course. This means any student performing below course expectations CANNOT receive a PR-Proficient or AD-Advanced in any course standard. 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). The final grade in the CCEE courses will be Pass/Fail only.

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.

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 course standards in line with their peers on the standards-based 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 receive an overall grade in each subject/content area and a proficiency level on each standard. Click the image below to enlarge.

How to read key parts of the report card

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 course 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 differentiated instruction and identify students for targeted supports. These strategies create opportunities for individual instructors and groups of teachers to reflect on student learning and their own practice and use.

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 consistent with expectations for that course for all students (including students with special needs and English Language Learners). This means any student performing below course level expectations cannot receive a PR– Proficient or AD–Advanced in any content area standard.

  • AD: Advanced — exceeding course expectations
  • PR: Proficient — meeting course expectations
  • BA: Basic — just below course expectations
  • MI: Minimal — far below course expectations
Are there any other scales used on this report card and what do they mean?

Three statements aligned to the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) system, used in MPS schools to reward students for making good choices, are included on most high school report cards. IB high schools use five “Approaches to Learning” instead. Both of these sets of statements are scored with a frequency scale to report on how often students are choosing positive classroom behaviors.

PBIS Statements:

  • Respectful-cooperate, participate, obey school rules, use good language
  • Responsible-come prepared, punctual, high work ethic, ready to learn
  • Safe-proper use of school property, wise choices with self-control

Approaches to Learning:

  • Self-management skills
  • Social skills
  • Communication skills
  • Thinking skills
  • Research skills

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.

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Dr. Melanie Stewart
Director of the Department of Research, Assessment, and Data
Phone: 414-475-8751

James Furniss
Curriculum Specialist, Infinite Campus
Phone: 414-475-8535

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