Teachers can use old grading format
The temporary reprieve is in response to school complaints
HAWAII ELEMENTARY schools that are struggling with a complicated new report card will be allowed to revert to the old format for this school year while the Department of Education works out bugs in the new system.
"This is really a transition year. Next year, we'll have everything worked out," state Superintendent Pat Hamamoto said yesterday.
Hamamoto had promised swift action two weeks ago after the Hawaii State Teachers Association said the report cards deserved an F and should be scrapped.
The union said teachers doing their first-quarter grading were finding the highly detailed four-page report cards poorly designed, causing some teachers to spend up to an hour manually filling out each one.
Hamamoto told a Board of Education meeting last night that a department memo will notify schools next week that they have three options, including continuing with the paper-and-pencil form or opting out entirely for this year only.
The third option is switching to an easier-to-use computer template.
Some frustrated schools have taken matters into their own hands and created their own templates for inputting grades into a computer after teachers found it too hard to press through the report card's several carbon copies.
THE DEPARTMENT plans to ask all schools with such templates to send theirs to the department for review.
"If they work and look OK, we want to send them out to schools," Hamamoto said.
She said she had "no idea" how many of the state's 166 elementary schools would opt out.
However, all schools will need to start using the new system next school year because of the implementation of a new version of the state's academic content and grading guidelines at that time.
The department also announced it would make $308,000 worth of supplies and funds available for schools willing to continue with paper versions of the grade reports.
Funds also may be used to hire extra clerical help to copy and distribute the report cards. Hamamoto, who met earlier this week with leaders of the HSTA, said the state also will provide more schools with training on how to complete the cards.
The new format, which was piloted for two years in 10 schools, features a different system of letter grades and more detailed information on student progress, and puts a greater burden on teachers to determine a student's grade, rather than rely on accumulated homework and test scores.
The department says the change is necessary to more accurately reflect how children are learning under the state's standards-based academic system.
The state Department of Education is giving elementary schools three options in dealing with a problem-plagued new report card format:
a) Continue using the paper version that has been criticized as cumbersome.
b) Switch to computer versions to be distributed by the department.
c) Scrap the whole format until next year.