New Elementary Progress Report provides flexibility to teachers, schools
ROXBOROUGH – This weekend, parents will get their first look at Douglas County School District’s new Elementary Progress Report (EPR).
In addition to providing families with the same information they expect – about the progress of their child in reading, writing, and math skills – the EPR will now also provide parents with information about how they are doing on the District's World Class Outcomes and the 4Cs (Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration), as well as 21st century skills that are integrated into student learning.
“I think that this EPR reflects a little bit more about what we’ve been asked to do in the classroom and the direction we’re going in Douglas County as far as not just teaching to the standards but also teaching beyond the standards and giving our kids that world class education,” said Jamie Cooper, a teacher at Castle Rock Elementary. “I think it helps parents see that we’re not just concerned about a skill or a content knowledge, but what kids do with those skills, how they use that content knowledge in their learning and their everyday life.”
“We still report out on those content standards, those specific skills in reading, writing and math. We just report out on a lot more to go along with it to give a more well-rounded picture of how your student is doing,” said Roxborough Primary Principal Rick Kendall. “In the past, the report cards only focused on the content. It only focused on very specific skills that were directly related to reading, writing and math. There is so much more to school than those skills, and there is so much more to the IB curriculum than that. We get to report out on more of those pieces, which I think parents really want to know.”
Kendall was on the committee of teachers and administrators that have helped to reshape the EPR, since the spring of 2013.
“We realized years ago that the tool was not working for us and it was not working for parents,” Kendall said. “It is exciting to see a new tool and especially such a flexible one be implemented and be available for teachers, parents and kids.”
The new EPR is customizable for each school. Principals and teachers have been working to align the tool with their school communities' needs. For instance, Roxborough included the International Baccalaureate units students studied during the first semester.
“I love the flexibility. I love that it is different for every school and can really match what every school is doing. For the longest time we used a tool that we had to try to fit what we are doing within the limitations of the tool. With the new EPR, we can make the tool match what we want it to communicate,” Kendall said. “We've really organized our EPR differently, choosing to focus on the inter-disciplinary themes of International Baccalaureate. The students spend large chunks of the year working on the six different units, so we report progress out on those units, rather than just on traditional subjects.”
The EPR is a lot like smart phone apps, it is continually being refined and new releases are provided to the system every two weeks to meet the needs of the schools and their teachers.
“One of the nicest things about it is that the tool can change,” explained Kendall. “Usually when you're working with software, you have to shoehorn your information into it. Our InspirED Innovation team is able to adjust the tool, based on what the teachers need. The teachers have been thankful for that.”
For the past couple months, teachers have been working to input student-specific ratings and comments into the system, in preparation for Saturday’s release. They too have had the ability to really customize the tool to meet their needs, shaping what specifically they are reporting back to parents.
“I think the transition [from the old EPR format] was actually pretty easy,” Cooper said. “It was nice to be able to really just focus on what it is we’re learning this semester rather than have to look at a whole EPR and everything that is going to go on over the year, and look at things that are not going to be covered yet but not be able to report out on them. So it’s nice to be able to just focus in on what we’re reporting out on and what we’ve been working on this semester. It was really pretty easy to use.”
Additionally, the teachers can really personalize the report to match individual students. For instance, they can link a student's Individual Education Program or Advanced Learning Plan and if a student is ahead or behind the class, and they can differenate the components of the Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC) that they report on.
Kendall says the report will look different, but it offers a lot of great, new benefits. There are links directly in the EPR to help parents find additional information about each GVC component. He says parents that have questions or concerns should chat with their child’s teacher or administrator, because they are best able to talk about how the report is being used at their specific school and how it has been customized to meet the school community’s needs.
I would encourage parents to ask those questions,” Kendall said.
Again, the new EPR will be available to parents on December 19, through the new EngagED Parent Portal.
For more information, go to our Elementary Progress Report Page