Ashburton Elem. ditches alphabet report cards, pilots new grading system

The cards have grades like E's, meaning "exceptional" and P for "proficient."

When second graders go home with their report cards from Ashburton Elementary School in Bethesda, there will be no A, B, C or D’s.

“We get E’s, I’s and N’s,” says Elise Herman a second grade student.

Ashburton was one of 25 schools in Montgomery County that piloted a new grading system, ditching the traditional alphabet report cards for a more intricate system that uses charts and different letters.

“On the report card there’s a graph and it’s got a target, a target for each student. The student has a dot on the graph and it tells you very clearly if your student is above or below that target,” says Karen Scarborough, a teacher at Ashburton.

The cards have grades like E’s, meaning “exceptional” and P for “proficient.” By next month, it’s how students at all of the county’s 139 elementary schools will be graded, which will mean a learning curve for many parents.

“The first report card I opened up and I had no idea what it meant. The PTA had a grading session. Then I was like Ah, OK, it makes sense now,” says Wendy Calhoun, a parent.

It’s all meant to give parents a better understanding of how their children are doing in school. At Ashburton, it’s the only way many of the kids have ever been graded and many are proficient on what the new language means.

“P is what you’re supposed to get. I is ‘in progress.’ N is ‘need more work,’” says Herman.