Welcome to McKinley Elementary School!

Principal’s Message

Recently the Yakima School District has changed the look and lay out of the report card as well as the way students are graded.  The following is an expert from an article explaining this change and standards based grading.

For an increasing number of students, report cards with traditional letter grades are a thing of the past. Instead of A’s and B’s, their report cards might have 2’s and 3’s.  This new look is a result of standards-based grading, an approach in which students receive scores for both academic achievement and student work habits.  Standards-based report cards have been most commonly used at the elementary level, but some middle schools and high schools are adopting them, too. In states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards, some school districts have moved to standards-based grading to show how students are meeting the standards.  Standards-based grading is a method for teachers to measure how students are doing in meeting the learning goals for their grade as determined by their state’s standards (Commons Core State Standards). Learning goals are the academic skills your child should know or be able to do for his grade level by the end of the school year.

Providing grades for academic progress and work habits gives parents more information about the areas in which their child needs to improve, more than the traditional letter grading system did. The traditional grading system combined many elements—test scores, quizzes, completed homework, classroom participation, coming to school on time, extra credit—and averages the semester’s work into a percentage that correlates with a letter grade.  In standards based grading a score is given separately for academics and for effort.  This gives parents more accurate information.  In standards based grading you can see if your child needs help with an academic concept or can’t remember to turn in homework. Both should be addressed. An overarching goal in education these days is to develop students who not only master academic content but also demonstrate attributes for successful learning beyond school.

The proficiency levels are explained this way:
4 Consistently on pace to exceed standards by year’s end- Exceeds the standard
3 Consistently on pace to meet standards by year’s end- At standard
2 Inconsistent progress toward meeting standards by year’s end- Below standard
1 Needs improvement – significantly below standard

If you’re confused by what the levels mean, you’re not alone. Keep in mind that a 3 or “proficient” isn’t the same as a B. It means your child has met state grade level standards, and that’s good. Also, even top students can earn a 2 or “Inconsistent progress” grade, which can be a shock for some families. But it’s more important to know if your child is struggling with a concept than to see a slew of top grades because of stellar work habits. On the upside, early low scores aren’t averaged into the final grade—so once your child masters the concept, her final grade shows that. Level 4, or the top level, may be the trickiest to understand. If your child earned A’s on traditional report cards, she may have received them for meeting the teacher’s requirements, not necessarily for excelling at or going beyond grade level according to state standard. In the new system, 4’s may be harder to come by (and 3’s should be celebrated). However, earning 4’s should be achievable in the classroom and it’s important that teachers’ lessons offer opportunities for students to excel and reach level 4. This is an area we as a school will be developing since the adoption of standards-based grading and Common Core State Standards.

As the grading system becomes familiar, you’ll get more comfortable. The important thing is that your child is learning and making progress. Celebrate learning, and don’t forget to ask your child’s teacher if you need clarification around the report card.


Amanda Voorhees

McKinley Elementary Principal



Amanda Anderson


McKinley Elementary



McKinley Elementary is a school that partners with families and the community to help all students reach their full academic potential.


Our mission is to provide a safe and supportive environment that values family and community relationships.  We are committed to providing a rigorous learning experience through intentional instruction aligned to the common core.



We will focus on the education of the whole child with attention to safe learning settings, healthy lifestyles, challenged and engaged teaching and learning, and district – wide support services. Together, we will initiate a learning improvement process focused on student needs highlighted by innovative thinking and a culture of learning. Professional learning communities will guide our improvement strategies and implementations. These learning communities will draw on the wisdom, experiences, and ideas of our students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members to determine the best practices for becoming a high performing school.


Character Word of the Month

Our Character Word of the Month for October is...

Tact: Thinking before one speaks or acts; being truthful without offending others.