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Fairfax County To Adopt 'Standards-Based' Report Cards

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FCPS administrators say teachers have been focused on state standards of learning (SOLs) for years now -- so the switch to standards-based report cards is a logical step.
Jonathan Wilson
FCPS administrators say teachers have been focused on state standards of learning (SOLs) for years now -- so the switch to standards-based report cards is a logical step.

Elementary students in Fairfax County Public Schools will always have to master their ABCs. But in the fall of 2011, Fairfax will begin the move away from letter grades to a more detailed, number-based assessment system for kindergarten through sixth grade.

Judy Heard is overseeing the transition for the school district.

"It is a huge culture change," Heard says.

In the new standards-based progress reports, each subject or class will be broken down into several subcategories -- in each of which students will be rated from 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest.

Heard says while the new reports may seem more complicated, it should ultimately make it easier for teachers to assess their students. She uses math as an example:

"A student may be real strong in number concepts, but not so strong in geometry, and to combine those into a single grade is a challenge," she says.

Grace Becker, a Fairfax parent, was part of a small focus group regarding the change last year. She says more information is always good for parents, but worries the new system contains too much academic jargon.

"I think what they're doing is giving a lot of descriptive information, in terms of subcategories, but there are lots of words that don't have a lot of information behind it," Becker says.

Fairfax is set to start the new process with 10 schools in the fall and expand to all elementary schools in the fall of 2012.

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