Elementary Report Card Information for Parents

  ISD 709 elementary schools grade and report student progress using a standards-based system that helps provide:

  • A clear measure for parents of their child’s individual progress
  • Meaningful, user-friendly feedback
  • A description of learning goals as parents help support their child’s achievement
  • Consistency between elementary classrooms and elementary schools across the district.  

What does standards-based mean?

   Standards are academic learning goals expected in each subject.  Standards are further divided into grade level criteria, called benchmarks. Standards and benchmarks are determined by the State of Minnesota, a local ISD 709 committee, national organizations, or a combination of these.  

   A standards-based report card represents an individual student’s progress in relation to the year-end goals.


What are academic standards?

  They’re statements that describe what a student should know and be able to do in math, reading, science, social studies and other areas.  Classroom assignments and tests are linked to those standards, and there are learning goals associated with each content area.  Students are expected to meet the learning goals by the end of the school year.

See Report Card Guide with Learning Goals:

   Kindergarten   Grade 1   Grade 2   Grade 3   Grade 4   Grade 5

Why are we changing to a standards-based system?  

   A standards-based system provides a clearer understanding of the skills students must master in order to meet an academic standard and where they are in the learning process.  It can help better identify where a student is moving toward meeting the standard and where they are not. If a student is not on track to meet a standard, supports can be put in place, and students can be given additional opportunities to demonstrate their understanding.

How is the standards based report card different?

     Report cards reflect a student’s individual progress toward achieving learning goals associated with the standards in each content area.  Scores are based on the student's work compared to the standards - not compared to other students in the class.  

    Families will notice numbers rather than letter grades. The numbers represent the level to which a student has progressed toward mastering different parts of the standard. Below are additional ways the standards based report card is different:



What marks will I see on my child’s report card?

   In all academic subjects, teachers will report on a four point scale which describes a student’s progress on the standards:  Beginning, Developing, Meeting, or Mastering:

    4 = Mastering  The student’s knowledge, understanding, and application of the concepts, skills, and processes extends beyond the requirements of the standard.

    3 = Meeting  The student has thorough knowledge, understanding, and application of the concepts, skills, and processes the standard requires.

    2 = Developing  The student is gaining understanding of the concepts, skills, and processes the standard requires, but has not been able to consistently demonstrate the learning.

    1 = Beginning  The student is just starting to understand the concepts, skills, and processes the standard requires and needs consistent support.

    Student’s work habits, behavior, and social skills are reported separately, in a section of the report card titled Characteristics of Successful Learners.  Marks are related to frequency: Mostly, Sometimes, or Rarely.

Does a 1 mean my student is failing?  Does a 4 equal an A?

   No and no. The numbers indicate the level at which a student has demonstrated their knowledge and skills against the standard. Students have achieved the learning outcome or goal when they receive a 3 on the report card.  

   It’s important to note that a 4 is quite rare, even by the end of the year.  Fours indicate that a student has gone beyond the skills required by the standard and can apply that knowledge in new and different ways.  

How are marks determined?  

   Throughout the semester, students will demonstrate their learning independently in a variety of ways; completing tests, projects, quizzes, performance and the like.  Homework and in-class daily work is practice that helps the student prepare for the end-of-unit task or test.  

  A rare instance may occur if a student has not produced enough evidence to determine their progress.  If a student missed a lot of school due to illness, for example, the teacher may not be able to report a mark for a particular standard and will note that they do not have sufficient evidence available. A mark will be provided once the teacher does have enough evidence to determine the student’s understanding.

Why are report cards provided twice per year?

   The accuracy of reporting on standards depends on a collection of evidence; there would not likely be enough information available to report progress accurately under the previous schedule.  By waiting until January for the first formal report card, teachers will be able to provide a more accurate and informed mark.  In between report cards, teachers will meet with parents during conference time and will communicate with parents or guardians if a child is at risk of not progressing on the standards.  

Can I help my child work to meet or master standards?

   Support from parents is crucial to a student’s success.  Along with encouraging your child to practice good academic skills such as completing homework or practice work, you can consult our learning supports guide:

Kindergarten   Grade 1   Grade 2   Grade 3   Grade 4   Grade 5 

This guide is also produced as a magnet and distributed to families at the beginning of the school year.  

What if I have more questions?

   If you would like further information regarding standards based grading and reporting, please call the Duluth Public School Curriculum Department at 218-336-8700 ext. 1138 or visit their website at www.ISD709.org   


Click here for detailed information on standards based reporting.