Within about a week, report cards for the first trimester will come home for fourth through eighth grade students. The teachers devote an extraordinary amount of thought and time to creating a comment that captures the essence of your child's learning and performance in each class. The comments and accompanying grade report are a valuable means both of assessing your child's academic strengths and weaknesses and forging a path for fine-tuned performance in the trimesters to come.
ﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠSince we are a school that highly values both academic performance and, at least as importantly, strong and consistent effort, we designate academic and effort honors. Invariably each year, though, some parents raise questions about their child's not making the effort honor roll. In order to earn effort honors, a child must receive grades of E (excellent) or G (good) for all effort grades in all academic subjects and “specials,” like art and music.
ﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠAdmittedly, assessing someone else's effort is a subjective matter. However, our teachers get to know our children intimately, observe and assess them carefully, and spend an abundance of time with them doing academic kinds of tasks. If a teacher is going to award a grade of E or G, he or she is not doing the child any favor if he or she doesn't feel that that child's effort is truly excellent or good. In fact, assigning an effort grade that is not truly representative of the student's performance actually deprives the student of a chance to grow and learn. Plus, a grade of S is satisfactory - it's not bad, just not beyond what is required as a baseline. Grades of NI (needs improvement) and U (unsatisfactory) indicate that standards are not being met to differing degrees. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that all of these grades present learning opportunities for our students.
ﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠA grade of E means that a child is consistently putting forth an excellent effort, as evidenced by these kinds of behaviors: always arriving with all materials and work thoroughly, thoughtfully, and neatly completed; going considerably beyond requirements; participating actively, respectfully, thoughtfully, and “a cut above” in discussions and class work; being thorough, punctual, and insightful with written work and projects; pushing oneself to stretch, think, and engage with what is being learned; being cooperative; helping to create a strongly positive learning environment; being age-appropriately independent; meeting all of the class' unique requirements; being strongly responsible about class materials; and exhibiting positive classroom behavior. While this list is not exhaustive, it represents the kind of high standard our teachers are properly setting to consider a child's effort excellent.
ﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠﾠA grade of G means that a child usually exhibits the kinds of behaviors mentioned above and thus that student's effort is “good.” A grade of S means that a child sometimes exhibits these kinds of behaviors but usually does about what is expected of a Country School student. That is “satisfactory” and still not bad, but not consistently beyond what we expect. Grades of NI and U mean that frequently or usually a child isn't meeting the kinds of standards we see as The Country School norm.