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Calif. School District Shakes Up Letter Grade Alphabet

Report cards at elementary schools in Del Mar are getting a new look

By Artie Ojeda and R. Stickney
|  Saturday, Sep 14, 2013  |  Updated 4:54 PM EDT
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Report cards at elementary schools in Del Mar are getting a complete makeover. The new grading system throws out traditional letter grades in exchange for a new way of evaluating student progress. NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda reports.

Report cards at elementary schools in Del Mar are getting a complete makeover. The new grading system throws out traditional letter grades in exchange for a new way of evaluating student progress. NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda reports.

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E is the new A in Del Mar, Calif.

The "A, B, C and D's" most of us are familiar with seeing on report cards will soon be replaced with "E, D, S, and B's," according to a new grading system adopted by the Del Mar Union School District.

The new way of evaluating student progress is part of the district's transition to California's Common Core standards.

Students in Ms. Pike's 5th grade class at Ashley Falls Elementary may not realize it but they're being evaluated much differently this year.

Parents in the seaside community north of San Diego gathered Thursday night to learn more about the new system that throws out the traditional letter grades. For instance, "B's" are bad in the new system.

The Del Mar Union School District, which covers Kindergarten through sixth grade, has moved to what's called a “standards-based scoring system.”

“We recognized a need to give clearer and more accurate information about student progress toward standards,” said Shelley Peterson with the Del Mar Union School District.

Every school district in California decides how to evaluate its students under the Common Core State Standards this is how Del Mar is doing it.

Gone are traditional letter grades, like “A, B, and C” that educators feel were too broad.

“It really gives us very little information about where student’s strengths and weaknesses are,” Peterson said.

With the new report cards, subject areas are expanded listing specific areas of skills and knowledge students are responsible for learning.

The old letter grades will be replaced with new letters:

An “E” being the highest score followed by an “S”, “D”, and “B” - the lowest grade which means a student is beginning to progress toward expectations.

“With this type of reporting system, we can report more accurately about a student’s strengths and areas where a student might need more work,” Peterson said.

The district is confident the new standards-based report will give more feedback to parents.

“Looks interesting, it can work, I think, it's possible,” said parent Jackie Weinstein. “You can try it, if it doesn't work; you go back to the old standard.”

The grading system is also more rigorous and requires more student evaluation from teachers.

“It requires teachers to really narrow in on each of those specific standards and ensure that we have good accurate data about student performance in each area of our standards,” said Peterson.

California’s Common Core state standards in education are asking more from students in Reading and Math. Schools throughout the state are making the transition to the new standards.

The program was designed to go beyond basic reading, writing and arithmetic and improve or provide skills in critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving and communication – skills necessary in the current job market. 

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