Lexington School District One expanding behavior report cards in the fall

More schools in Lexington One will be using behavior-based report cards this year to boost parent-teacher communication. (photo provided)

More schools in Lexington School District One will be using behavior-based report cards this year to boost parent-teacher communication. (photo provided)

Several students in Lexington School District One will be bringing home a new assessment for their parents this fall after some grade levels piloted or used the program last year. The Habits of Scholarship Report Card and Leadership Skills Report Card, which is designed to communicate to parents about a child or teen’s behavior, will let parents know what skills to work on at home.

Administrators in January reported success at the elementary level with the Leadership Skills Report Card. The program was piloted in 2012-13.

Teachers and staff members from several district elementary schools were a part of the committee that put together the assessments and created a video to train teachers and guidance counselors on how to add the report cards into their classroom routine.

On a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis, teachers review how far along students have come in the areas of leadership, organization and positive communication. They give students a number from one to three to indicate if they are proficient, emerging or non-proficient. Students also are given the chance to “grade” themselves and perform a self-assessment.

“It made them accountable for their behavior,” said Kelly Smith, a teacher at Gilbert Elementary School. “In the back of their mind they had this voice saying that ‘I need to think about that before I actually follow through with my actions’.”

Guidance counselors aid teachers in reporting behaviors on the Leadership Skills Report Card and can formulate a plan for remediation for a child if needed. The assessments, however, do not factor into a student’s actual curriculum grade.

“It is a flexible tool for teachers,” said Brenda Dooley, school counselor at Lake Murray Elementary School. “It provides strong conversations between home and school.”

More students in upper grades will take home a similar assessment this year, the Habits of Scholarship Report Card.

The assessments will not harm or help a middle or high schooler’s GPA or go into his permanent file.

Habits of Scholarship was piloted in some middle schools last year and is expanding to all middle school campuses this fall. School officials said the middle school version of the assessment will help a teacher see if a student clearly understands a concept as it will look at behaviors that might be preventing them from learning.

Students also will be assessed on skills they need to build to succeed in the future such as personal responsibility and citizenship. Teachers will ask if a student respects others, collaborates well with classmates and finishes his work on time. They will use the 1 to 3 scale of needs improvement, becoming proficient and proficient.

Preparing students for college and their career with the Habits of Scholarship Report Card continues at the high school level.

The assessment was piloted at Pelion High School last year and used comments from instructors instead of the one to three scale. Teachers reported that numerous productive conversations sprouted from the comments.

“We are striving to provide useful feedback based on individual performance in the different subject areas,” said Academic Officer for Innovation Anne Elam.

Those at Pelion and River Bluff high schools implement the assessment full scale this year while other campuses will start with small groups during first semester. All high schools will fully implement in second semester.

The high school behavior-based reports will focus on the traits of persistence and time management.

“It is quite likely that students will find that they persist more in one subject than in another when cognitive demands of the course become more complex. Likewise, they may manage their time more wisely in their areas of strengths. All this information, through discussions with their teachers, will help students become more aware of what it takes to succeed,” Elam said.

Administrators from Pelion High recently presented their early Habits of Scholarship Report Card success stories to hundreds of educators at the South Carolina Association of School Administrators’ 2014 Innovative Ideas Institute in Myrtle Beach as well as the High Schools That Work National Conference in Nashville. Several other schools showed interest in creating a similar program, and Pelion High is creating a Lexington One Habits of Scholarship iBook to guide them.