Should Wake County go back to using letter grades on report cards for at least some elementary school students?
That's what school board member Deborah Prickett suggested during last month's school board retreat. She said Wake should at least bring back the old-style report cards for grades three through five.
The issue came up as part of a discussion on the use of EVAAS to place students in math classes in middle schools.
Prickett brought up her experience as a middle school counselor, She said the lack of "real grades" in elementary school made it hard to know whether to place eighth-graders in Algebra I.
Prickett pointed back to how students get into advanced math in sixth grade, which in turns sets them up for pre-algebra in seventh grade and then Algebra I in eighth grade. But she said there's a real gap in information coming out of fifth grade so they have to rely on teacher evaluations.
Whether her idea goes very far remains to be seen. A discussion of grading practices, probably more focused on middle schools, is scheduled for Tuesday's board work session.
Since 2004, every Wake elementary school has used the Level I-IV system in lieu of letter grades. School leaders have argued that the Level-based report cards "has helped administrators and teachers at schools to improve assessment practices, guide instruction of the state standards, and provide more deliberate development of enrichment activities."
Seven years later, the elimination of letter grades on report cards hasn't won over some elementary school parents and at least some school board members like Prickett.
BTW, school administrators told board members earlier this year there are no plans to scrap the use of letter grades for middle school report cards. But they say they are looking at changes so that grades reflect what students know and not how they behave, including adopting practices such as not giving zeros.