HSTA faults new report cards
The union advocates restoration of the old A-B-C grading system
The state teachers union is asking the Department of Education to stop the new standards-based report card, which scraps traditional grades, until problems and questions can be worked out.
Roger Takabayashi, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said he has received "tons of e-mails" from teachers with complaints about the new report card, officially instituted this fall.
He will raise the issues today before the state Board of Education.
"We think it should be stopped until all the glitches are worked out," he said. "It's not ready for a roll-out."
The HSTA recommends going back to the old grading system until the problems have been ironed out.
Takabayashi emphasized, however, that teachers have embraced the standards-based education style.
The new, highly detailed, four-page report card discards the traditional A-through-F grading system for kindergarten through fifth grade. Grades no longer represent an average of a semester's homework and test scores. Rather, grades are based on what a child knows and can do by the end of a semester.
The new report card evaluates whether students meet proficiency in each standard for their grade level through school projects or tests. Final grades are "meets with excellence," "meets proficiency," "approaches" and "well below."
Teachers are concerned the new report card takes too much time for teachers to fill out, is confusing to parents and does not accurately reflect a student's status, the HSTA maintains.
A two-year pilot program of 10 schools generated feedback, which was not incorporated into the new report card, the HSTA said.
"Unfortunately, the DOE largely ignored the tremendous amount of analysis and suggestions and comments made by teachers who spent hours piloting this program," Takabayashi said.
Some teachers report taking up to 1 1/2 hours to complete a single report card.
Teachers have questions about having consistency with the standards from teacher to teacher or school to school.
The subjective nature of the grading and what constitutes approaching, meeting or exceeding proficiency standards is a large part of the problem.
Takabayashi said one teacher complained that a student who came from another school and whose teacher had given him "ME's" (meets with excellence) did not meet the standards with excellence in her estimation.
Teachers are also reporting parents do not seem to understand the new format, and some teachers cannot explain it.
"Parents need to understand how their child is doing in school, and it's not giving them a clear picture," he said.
Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen said schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto has said that many of the problems being brought up will be addressed and resolved.
Hamamoto is "willing to listen" to the teachers' concerns, Knudsen said.
Principal Wade Araki of Benjamin Parker Elementary School, whose teachers began using the new report card this quarter, said: "Preparing for it has been more difficult for some than for others, but my teachers have done a good job adapting to it, so we're not seeing any problems.
"It's a change of thinking and in the way you do grades, but it's pretty much accepted here by now," he said.
Star-Bulletin reporter Dan Martin contributed to this report.