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New kindergarten reports cards please officials

May 21, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

New kindergarten progress reports will give Washington County parents a truer picture of what their children are learning in school and how well they're doing, according to school officials.

The new report card - based on the county's Essential Curriculum - was praised by Washington County Board of Education members during a work session on Tuesday morning at the Career Studies Center.

Speaking as a parent, board member Andrew R. Humphreys said he found the new report card more meaningful.

Board President B. Marie Byers, a former teacher, said she thinks the new report card is "excellent."

Feedback on the new report cards - field-tested at five county elementary schools this spring - has been overwhelmingly positive, said Jill Burkhart, supervisor of early childhood education.

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Teachers liked the comment space available with each content area, Burkhart said. The current format, more than two decades old, includes a general comment section on the back.

Parents also liked the additional comment areas and said the new format was easy to understand, she said.

Only four of the 66 parent comments received were negative, including one from a parent who missed the monthly attendance record and another from a parent who found it hard to compare the old and new report cards, Burkhart said.

The new report card is in line with the revised report cards used in first through fifth grades, said JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown, director of elementary education.

While the old and new report cards share many basic items - like participation in various activities - the new format goes into much greater detail.

For example, it breaks math and science into two sections assessing complex skills.

Instead of looking at individual muscle development skills, which take up a dozen spaces on the old card, the new card lumps all but one item into either "large muscle tasks" or "small muscle tasks." The child's ability to print his or her first name legibly is listed separately.

The new report card is "absolutely needed" because of the major changes in kindergarten curriculum, said Millie Strange, a kindergarten teacher at Bester Elementary School who worked on the report card committee.

For example, math skills have gone far beyond counting and coloring numbers on a worksheet to learning how to interpret graphs and identify and continue patterns, Strange said.

Strange said she received "very, very positive" comments after using the new card at the end of the third marking period.

The report card will be up for formal board approval at the next business meeting May 27, Byers said.

"The parents were very happy with it," she said. "They were able to tell what was happening in the classroom more and what the children needed."

If approved, the new report card will be used by all kindergarten teachers next school year, said William G. Ford, assistant superintendent for instruction.

The plan is it to send out the reports at the end of the second, third and fourth marking periods instead of just the second and fourth periods, Ford said.

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