Among the most obvious differences: Students will be graded on many more learning objectives, or standards, for which they will receive numeric scores.
To give parents a chance to provide feedback, the school system will provide an online survey before the first report card comes out in November, Fuss said. One of the issues on which education officials want feedback is whether parents want letter grades to continue to be provided, she said.
The report card still consists of two pages, but now the cards are different for each grade level from kindergarten through fifth grade.
The new report cards match up better with the curriculum, which has changed in recent years, school system officials said.
“We teach to standards, so it makes sense that the report card would reflect those standards and where students are,” Board of Education President Justin Hartings said after an Aug. 20 meeting in which the board heard a presentation about the new report cards.
Hartings said the new report cards could be great for students, although he expects there will be a long learning curve for parents who grew up with letter grades.
“But, in the long run, I think it’s really going to help promote dialogue and achievement for students,” Hartings said.
The old report card provided numeric scores for learning objectives, but the definitions of those numeric scores has changed and there is a much longer list of learning objectives that teachers will score.
Jesse Orth, a lead teacher at Emma K. Doub Elementary School, said the more specific standards, or learning objectives, on the report card clearly inform parents what students know and can do.
The Doub teachers who participated in a pilot program for the new report cards last year thought they were able to give clearer feedback on the report cards, said Orth, who helps train and mentor teachers.
The new standards come from the Common Core State Standards that have been adopted by 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories and all Department of Defense schools.
The more rigorous standards are expected to better prepare students to succeed and provide some comparability for educational goals at each grade level across much of the country.
The new report cards were piloted for second-graders during the last marking period of the 2012-13 school year at six elementary schools: Boonsboro, Cascade, Conococheague, Emma K. Doub, Fountain Rock and Williamsport.
There is no timeline set for new report cards for middle and high schools, said Rick Akers, director of secondary schools and student services.
School system officials are still exploring what secondary school report cards might look like, given the number of standards involved and the variety of courses available in the middle and high schools, Akers said.
The new elementary report cards have long lists of standards related to English language arts and math, but for social studies, only list basic areas such as civics, U.S. history, geography and economics.
Akers said new science standards are on the way.