Florida school district ditching traditional letter grades for latest Common Core gimmick

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First- and second-graders (and, for the record, kindergarteners) in Clay County, Fla. will no longer have to face anything as backward and reactionary as traditional letter grades when they return to school this week.

The county, which is a mix of rural areas and some Jacksonville suburban sprawl, will roll out a newfangled standards-based reporting system, reports The Florida Times-Union.

The goal of the new system is to describe each student’s understanding and command of Florida’s new Common Core standards.

The controversial Common Core is supposed to add more academic rigor to American education. It’s also supposed to make American schooling more nationally uniform.

Instead of the familiar A, B, C, D, F system that everyone understands, Clay County schools will implement a new quarterly report of academic achievement using three different, ostensibly better letters: M, P, and I.

Students who get an “M” have mastered the standards in a consistent, independent way.

Students who get a “P” are merely making the expected level of progress toward mastering the standards.

Students who get an “I” are making insufficient progress and need more time to master the standards.

So, basically then, an “M” is an “A” of old, a “P” is a “C” and an “I” is an “F.” Grades of “B” and “D” are now obsolete.

There will also be notation concerning specific Common Core concepts. Students who get a “\” symbol are fine concerning a particular concept. Students who get an “X” beside a specific concept aren’t getting it, or otherwise doing it right.

Clay County teachers “worked to create a report card with more information to help parents and tell the story of a child’s academic progress,” school district spokesman Gavin Rollins told The Times-Union.

The new grading system for lower-grade elementary school students in Clay County is eerily similar to a plan that is slated for implementation in the Canadian city of Calgary.

In September 2014, teachers in Calgary will begin assessing students using the terms “exemplary,” “evident,” “emerging” and “support required.” (RELATED: Calgary schools plan to drop letter grades in 2014)

“If you know as a parent that your child has received 82 percent, it’s very difficult to know what to do to help them,” Calgary Board of Education director Ronna Mosher said concerning the new plan in the Great White North.

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