Parents will see some changes in report cards in the coming school year if the St. Tammany Parish School Board adopts plans that, among other things, would switch to letter grades for first graders.
The School Board will vote on a slate of 10 changes that affect report cards and promotion policies Thursday, when it also will decide whether to allow students to bring cellphones on campus.
The board, which met as a committee of the whole last week, voted in favor of the new cellphone policy and also the proposed changes to its pupil progression plan.
Superintendent Trey Folse said that while students would be allowed to bring cellphones on campus under the proposed change, they will not be allowed to use them except in emergency situations affecting public safety in which loss of life or injury are imminent.
Folse said parents already send their children to school with cellphones because they view having phones as a safety issue. Students also use them to communicate with parents at after-school activities.
The policy, which does not address punishment for violations, mirrors actual practice, Folse said. The board voted 14-1 to recommend passage of the policy, with Mary K. Bellisario casting the dissenting vote.
Board members quizzed the administration about changes in the pupil progression plan, but most of the changes got unanimous votes to recommend passage at the full School Board meeting.
A number of the changes will affect report cards for the youngest students in the system. Instead of receiving separate grades for writing, speaking, listening and language, students in kindergarten, transitional first grade and first grade will receive a single grade on their report cards for language arts.
School officials said that the change will help align the school system's grading policy.
Board members asked how parents would be able to assess where their children might be having problems. Administration officials said that teachers will still look at those areas individually in grade books, information that can be shared during conferences with teachers.
Students in first grade will see another big change under the proposed plans. Currently, those students receive grades of outstanding, satisfactory or needs improvement, but they'll get letter grades of A, B, C, D or F in reading, language arts, math, social studies and science next year under the revised policy.
Other changes will affect requirements for promotion, including a requirement that students in grades 7 and 8 pass both reading and math and either science or social studies to be promoted to the next grade.