The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

July 10, 2013

Traditional grading system eliminated for Clinton fourth-graders this fall

CLINTON — Fourth-graders at Clinton elementary schools won't be 'A,' 'B,' or even 'C' students at the end of their first trimester.

Instead, students will only receive marks on their report cards that indicate how close they have come to mastering a subject.   

Curriculum Director John Jorgensen is going to suspend letter grades for fourth-grade students in the first trimester of next school year, leaving them with what he feels are marks that more accurately reflect student progress.  

The report card is broken down into subjects such as math or language arts and for each subject students are measured on a set of standards as "beginning," "developing" or "consistently demonstrating."

Students receive an overall letter grade in the subject, but Jorgensen explained the letter grade doesn't give parents a good sense of what the student is truly accomplishing.

The move to suspend the letter grade is a product of the Iowa Core. The core dictates students should master a skill by the end of the year, making grading with one letter at the end of the first and second trimesters difficult, teachers told the Clinton School Board during the board meeting Monday night.  

"We're not just putting worksheets in front of kids saying 'here you go.' We're giving them problems to make them think. We're creating many, many rubrics for everything we do to show parents what their child is doing and what they're capable of doing. And that's really hard to put a letter grade on," fourth- grade teacher Erica Felkey said.  

In January, Jorgensen will come to the board with a recommendation on whether to return to the letter grades. The decision would be based on teacher, parent and community input.

Board member Jim McGraw asked at what grade eliminating letter grades would stop. Jorgensen said the recommendation in January could be to remove letter grades in fifth grade, but said he did not want to change grading at the middle school level.  

"When a seventh-grade teacher said, 'grades don't fit into these standards,' I said to her, 'not going there.' We can pretty easily go there in fourth grade or into fifth grade. Actually the fourth-grade parents next year will have never had grades for their children, so that's a pretty nice transition," Jorgensen said.

The district did away with grades for third-grade students a couple years ago. While Jorgensen did not need board permission to begin the fourth-grade pilot program, he wanted to solicit board members' opinions.  

"I think it's a great idea. I'd rather have my child be able develop something that he's eventually going to master it than have a 'C' or a 'D,' knowing that he's going to have an 'A' by the end of the year," Board member Missey Sullivan-Pope said.

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

    Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that's similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it's not too hot and not too cold for life.

    The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system.

    April 17, 2014

  • Defend 'Obamacare' unabashedly, some Democrats say

    With enrollments higher than expected, and costs lower, some Democrats say it's time to stop hiding from the president's health care overhaul, even in this year's toughest Senate elections.

    Republicans practically dare Democrats to embrace "Obamacare," the GOP's favorite target in most congressional campaigns. Yet pro-Democratic activists in Alaska are doing just that, and a number of strategists elsewhere hope it will spread.

    April 17, 2014

  • Search for Chicago site for George Lucas museum

    As Yoda might say: A site for a museum you must find.

    Those are the marching orders Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is giving a dozen civic leaders as the city searches for a potential location for an interactive museum to house filmmaker George Lucas' collection of art and filmmaking memorabilia.

    April 17, 2014

  • Illinois unemployment drops to 5-year-low

    State officials say unemployment in Illinois dropped in March to 8.4 percent. That's its lowest level since 2009.

    April 17, 2014

  • Gaming commission rejects Cedar Rapids casino

    The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission rejected a proposed $164 million Cedar Rapids casino Thursday, saying it would hurt existing casinos.

    Supporters of the Cedar Crossing Casino development have said it would give an economic boost to Cedar Rapids and the region. They also argued it would be a catalyst for development in an area ravaged by a 2008 flood, create jobs and generate millions for tax revenue and charities.

    April 17, 2014

  • Iowa Senate race suddenly more competitive

    A catchy political ad and a gotcha video have raised Republican hopes of capturing the Senate seat in Iowa, a prospect that would greatly enhance the party's chances of regaining control of the Senate.

    Republicans are adding the seat, held for three decades by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, to their list of winnable races in the November midterm elections.

    April 17, 2014

  • Evacuation came too late for many on sinking ferry

    An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea's southern coast, likely with scores of people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list amid confusion and chaos, a crew member said Thursday.

    Meanwhile, the coast guard said it was investigating whether the ferry's captain was one of the first ones off the sinking ship.

    April 17, 2014

  • Putin hopes no need to send troops into Ukraine

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday rejected claims that Russian special forces are fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but recognized for the first time that the troops in unmarked uniforms who had overtaken Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula before its annexation by Moscow were Russian soldiers.

    April 17, 2014

  • AGENDA: 4-21-14 Clinton School Board Committee of the Whole

    The Clinton Community School Board will meet April 21 at 6 p.m. at the Clinton Administration Center.

    April 17, 2014

  • Study: Diabetic heart attacks and strokes falling

    In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: Heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting.

    Over the last two decades, the rates of heart attacks and strokes among diabetics fell by more than 60 percent, a new federal study shows. The research also confirms earlier reports of drastic declines in diabetes-related kidney failure and amputations.

    April 17, 2014

AP Video