South St. Marys Street Elementary School Principal Chrissy Kuhar offered insight into new initiatives at all of the St. Marys Area School District’s elementary schools.
During Monday evening’s SMASD Board of School Directors meeting, Kuhar provided a detailed explanation about Seesaw, an online digital app learning platform used to connect to students both in-person as well as remotely.
She began by noting the challenge of navigating instruction during the frequent changes from in-person instruction to virtual learning. 
“It certainly has been a trying and difficult year, but we’re doing our best and plugging along and we’re making good gains,” Kuhar said.
Five-years ago the district began its evolution to Standard Based Report Cards (SBRCs). This was under the guidance of Superintendent Brian Toth and with the support of the school board. During that time they have rolled out the initiative grade level by grade level each year. Currently the are now working up to fourth grade and preparing to move to fifth grade next year.
“The purpose of this initiative was to become targeted with our teaching, and more clear about the reporting of students progress, as well as overall growth on grade level skills,” Kuhar said. 
She noted this initiative also helps to better know each student, to target areas of skill strength and areas in need of support, as well as to show evidence of growth.
During each marking period, students receive a number from 1-4 indicating how they performed in a specific subject area. As part of the reporting criteria a number four means they exceed expectations, a number three equates to meeting expectations, a number two shows progression toward expectations and a number one indicates not yet meeting expectations, specially limited evidence of progress in meeting benchmarks as required to meet the grade level expectations. 
Kuhar stated this year the school district opted to utilize Seesaw at each of its elementary schools to streamline learning into one platform, rather than having to utilize multiple platforms like which they previously relied on during the initial remote learning period in the spring of last year. 
The Seesaw platform allows teachers to target skills, provide support in school and remotely, and provide for engagement as part of a three-way communication tool between families, students, and teachers. 
Additionally school principals, counselors, specialists, tutors, and more can also access the platform to check on student progress, and more. 
Teachers find or create activities to share with students who may then respond in multiple ways including a written or typed response, a drawing, taking a photo, or recording a video. Families view their child’s work and leave comments and encouragement. 
Content uploaded to the platform is also included in a digital portfolio which grows with a student as they progress through each grade level.

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