Curriculum and Instruction

St. Margaret of Scotland Parish School’s curriculum consists of all of the learning experiences that are planned, guided and sponsored by the school. The curriculum is designed to further the mission of the school and its purpose.  Curriculum is reviewed by administration and staff on an ongoing basis in order to remain current and meaningful.  A written copy of the curriculum manual may be obtained in the school office.                                 (School Board Policy, August 2007)


Curriculum Goals for Students at All Grade Levels

Spiritual Goals:

  • Students will demonstrate Gospel values in daily decision making and interpersonal relationships.
  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of basic Catholic beliefs, including worship, evangelization, sacraments, Scriptures, doctrine and moral teachings.
  • Students will exhibit reflective spirituality characterized by prayer and awareness of God’s presence in their lives and in the world.
  • Students will express a desire to grow in a personal relationship with God by recognizing and responding to God’s presence in their daily lives.
  • Students will recognize and respond to God’s presence in their daily lives.
  • Students will show respect for self, others, and the environment.
  • Students will respect and appreciate diversity.
  • Students will act in the spirit of St. Margaret of Scotland as responsible members of the community and the world by involving themselves in community service and social justice activities.


Academic Goals:

  • Students will communicate thoughts and feelings clearly and competently when reading, writing, speaking and listening.
  • Students will integrate learned skills, concepts and knowledge across subject areas and real life situations.
  • Students will apply various strategies in problem-solving.
  • Students will demonstrate growth in higher order thinking skills to critically question facts, solutions and ideas.
  • Students will ethically use technology across all subject areas as a tool for gathering, analyzing, and communicating ideas and thoughts.
  • Students will maintain portfolio collections as evidence of growth in their thinking and learning.


Social /Emotional Goals:

  • Students will express individuality in positive ways, acknowledging their own gifts and talents.
  • Students will express themselves creatively.
  • Students will show an appreciation for creative works of others.
  • Students will show initiative and independence in learning and life skills.
  • Students will demonstrate cooperative learning and consensus seeking skills.
  • Students will work, individually and collectively, in building healthy relationships.
  • Students will develop emotional intelligence, as well as an awareness of the importance of emotional intelligence for thinking, learning and communicating. 
  • Students will wear the St. Margaret of Scotland uniform with respect for themselves, the learning community and their school.
  • Students will participate in the practice of mindfulness
  • Students will demonstrate responsibility for their learning and actions, as well as taking ownership for the learning environment.

                                                                                                   (Approved by faculty, May 2011)


Student Records

St. Margaret of Scotland Parish School keeps cumulative records on all students. These records are maintained and transferred in strictest confidence in accordance with Archdiocesan guidelines.

Parents have the right to review official records, files and data related to their children.                                                                                                                         (School Board Policy, October 2007)


All tuition and other financial obligations must be current before student records will be released to parents or to another institution.


Access to Student Records

Parent/guardians have the right to inspect and review the official active file of their children.  The local school officials should make reasonable rules and regulations designed to implement this policy.

The right of school personnel to access the records of students is limited to those who have a legitimate purpose for the information the record contains.  In addition, the person must also have a professional responsibility for a specific individual student or a clearly identified group of students.  This includes teacher, guidance counselors, administrators, and special education personnel.

There should be no release of student records to other schools, institutions, agencies, or individuals without the prior written consent of a parent/guardian, or the former student who is eighteen years or older.  Records are not released to parents or students but are transferred directly from the school to the institution designated to receive them.

Student Guidance counselors have the need to obtain information and record anecdotal notes about individual students with whom they meet, and to maintain that information during the period of the student’s enrollment at the school.  These should be kept in a professional manner, and in a format which allows the information and the date obtained to be readily identified and understood.

Student discipline information is not part of a student’s cumulative or permanent record file, and as such, is not included when parents authorize information to be provide to another school or agency.  Making this information available to any person or institution must only be done with specific written consent of the student’s parent or guardian and the student, if 18 years old or older and still enrolled in the school.  This applies to providing both written and/or oral information.

                        (Archdiocese of St. Louis Administrative Manual for Catholic Education, 2006)



Student Assessment and Evaluation

  • Unit Tests

Teachers utilize unit tests to asses if the student has mastered the knowledge, concepts, and skills of the unit.  This enables the teacher to target areas for re-teaching and enrichment.


  • Standardized Testing

            All students in grades 2 through 8 are given standardized tests annually.

                                                                                                (School Board Policy January 2006)


The standardized testing service is determined by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.  Currently the Iowa Test of Basic Skills is used.  Test scores are used to analyze curriculum strengths and weaknesses, as well as individual student strengths and weaknesses.  The results of ITBS standardized testing are reported to parents at Parent Teacher Conferences in the fall and periodically throughout the school year.

A religious education inventory, ACRE, is administered to students in grades 5 and 8 annually.


  • Observation

Essential to any student’s learning progress is careful observation by the teacher of the manner in which a student is able perform a learned skill or understand a new concept. Such careful observation is referred to as formative assessment.  It is basic in guiding students toward established learning goals and desired behavioral expectations. 


  • Quizzes

Frequent quizzes in the middle and upper grades are utilized by teachers in order to evaluate the student’s acquisition of daily skills and concepts.      


  • Projects and Reports

Projects provide an opportunity for students to apply skills, exhibit understanding, and demonstrate thinking.  Projects allow students to explore independent learning, draw on their own creativity, and exhibit analytical thinking capabilities.  Projects provide students wonderful opportunities for cooperative learning experiences where the diversity of giftedness of the different students often complements one another.  Projects, also, allow students increased opportunities to work on the life skill of time management. The complexity of the project varies based on the grade level and the work time allotted.  Project rubrics are an essential road map to a successful and satisfying completion for any project. 



Homework is an extension of the learning process begun at school.  The following is a collaboratively designed approach to homework – the result of the Faculty and Staff, 2007.

Homework allows a student time to:

  • practice a skill or process introduced in the day.
  • reflect on and further consider a concept introduced within a lesson.
  • investigate or discover on one’s own something, different from, yet significantly connected to a specific content or skill.

Doing homework on time all the time and doing it with care:

  • Increases an individual student’s chances of deep and meaningful learning.
  • Increases the overall learning environment for the entire class, causing each student and all students to engage in deep and meaningful learning.

The parent’s role in doing homework:

  • Always support your child’s efforts in doing his or her homework by:
    • creating a space and time conducive to learning
    • having materials available for the completion of an assignment
  • Never just give your son or daughter the answer!  There’s no learning there.  But always be willing to:
  • ask just the right question,
  • guide your child to just the right resource,
  • encourage a positive and responsible attitude.


Assignment Notebook is given to each student in third through eighth grades.  Students are guided through the process of utilizing this organizational tool by their homeroom and subject area teachers.  The Assignment Notebook is used at the end of each day by younger students and at the end of each period by older students.  The Assignment Notebook is used by:

  • the student to record homework assignments, test dates, and reminders.
  • the teachers as a means of quickly and efficiently communicating with parents, especially concerning missing assignments and signed tests.

We encourage our parents to look over their child(ren)’s Assignment Notebook nightly.

  • Homework should always be developmentally and cognitively appropriate.  If you have supported your child positively through the work of doing homework and your child is unable to complete his or her homework in an appropriate amount of time – communicate this to your child’s teacher via a note, phone call or email.  Spending too much time on homework is cause for concern.  Likewise, spending too little time on homework is cause for concern. The question to be asked of the child is whether or not the quality of effort is his or her best.


Approximate Time Allotments for Homework

Kindergarten                                                   15 – 20 minutes per evening

Be sure to read or be read to every night.

No homework on weekends


First Grade                                                      20 minutes per evening

Be sure to read or be read to nightly

Be sure to practice math facts nightly

No homework on weekends


Second Grade                                                 30 minutes per evening

Be sure to read nightly

Be sure to practice math facts nightly

No homework on weekends

Third Grade                                                    45 minutes per evening

Be sure to read nightly

Be sure to practice math facts nightly

No homework on weekends, except long range projects


Fourth and Fifth Grades                                 60 minutes per evening

Be sure to read nightly

Be sure to practice math facts nightly


Sixth, Seventh & Eighth Grades                    2 hours per evening

Be sure to read nightly


Long term assignments (book reports, research based essays, projects, etc).help students learn how to budget their time, as well as reflect on concepts within the subject area to develop new ideas.  Long term assignments, as well as tests, are posted on the individual teacher’s Fast Direct Bulletin Board for students’ and parents’ use.


Correcting and Grading Homework

A variety of techniques are employed by teachers for evaluating homework. Each teacher’s practice is communicated to students in the classroom and to parents at the September “Back to School Night.” 

Incomplete or missing assignments may result in one or more of the following consequences:

  • Note to parents via the assignment notebooks – parents are asked to respond with a note and/ or signature to indicate having seen the teacher’s note.
  • Phone call or email to parents
  • Loss of recess time
  • Unsatisfactory mid-quarter progress report
  • Unsatisfactory conduct or effort grade
  • Reduction of quarterly academic grade


Making Up Assignments Due to Absences

Six hours of instruction is missed every time a student is absent, it is very important for the student’s academic well-being that the work be made in a timely manner.  The best time to make arrangements for a sick child’s work to be sent home with another student is when the parent or guardian calls or emails school to report the absence.

  • After a one day illness, students should be able to complete all missed assignments within the next 24 hours.  Typically students are granted as many days to make up missed work due to an illness as the number of days missed from school.  In the case of an extended, more serious illness the parent and teacher will collaborate to determine the best course of action for making up work.
  • When a student in the preschool through second grade is absent from class the teacher will arrange for any necessary work to be made up. 
  • Students in third through eighth grade are responsible for meeting with their teacher(s) to determine what work was missed and what assignments need to be made up.



Reporting Student Progress

Electronic Grade Book

Fast Direct is a secure, internet system used by St. Margaret of Scotland Parish School for record keeping at all grade levels from taking attendance to reporting grades.  (see Communications)  Each teacher from third through eighth grade maintains an electronic grade book on Fast Direct viewable by parents.  The parents of students in grades three through eight are encouraged to monitor their child’s academic progress every other week by accessing the child’s teacher’s electronic grade book.   Teachers are expected to update their electronic grade books on the odd-dated Mondays of each month.


Progress Reports

Progress Reports are issued mid-way through each quarterly marking period for all students in first through eighth grade as a means of communicating to parents a student’s learning and maturing progress.  Kindergarten and preschool students receive progress reports at the second, third and fourth mid-quarters.

  • The primary purpose of the first progress report is to assess the student’s transition back into school.  Emphasis is placed on social and emotional adjustment. 
  • The second, third, and fourth progress reports emphasize academic progress with the intent to make parents aware of any potential areas of concern. Progress reports, although an important communication tool, are not part of the student’s permanent records.

The dates that progress reports are sent home are posted on the school calendar, on the SMOS web site calendar, and in the Thursday newsletters prior to the actual Thursday that the progress reports are published. 


Report Cards

            Report Cards are issued four times each year.  They are meant to inform the parents of the student’s academic accomplishments for that quarterly period.  Equal emphasis is placed on the student’s effort and behavior for the quarter.  Both impact a student’s ability to learn as well as the learning environment so essential for the whole class.  Report cards serve the dual purpose of informing the parents about the child’s academic and behavioral accomplishments as well as recording that information for permanent records.

  • First through eighth graders receive a report card at the end of each of four quarters.
  • Kindergarten and preschool students receive report cards at the end of second, third and fourth quarters.

            Students, especially those in the middle and upper grades, are expected to review the report card with their parent.  Dates for the end of each quarter and the issuing of report cards are posted in the school calendar, on the SMOS web site calendar, and in the Thursday newsletters. 

  • The dates for the end of the quarter and the actual posting of the report card are about a      10 day apart.  The difference in time allows teachers to teach and assess right up to                         the end of the quarter and then have time to grade assignments and input grades for each    student.


NOTE: Parents who do not have access to the internet are asked to let the school office know so that a paper copy of the progress report and report card can be supplied for that family.



Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-Teacher Conferences are an essential means for communication between parents and their child’s teacher(s).  Parent-Teacher Conferences are always held in the fall and usually in the spring – dates are posted in the school calendar, on the SMOS web site calendar, and in the Thursday newsletters.  The student’s first quarter report card and ITBS scores are given to parents at the Parent-Teacher Conference.  Students, especially those in the upper grades, are encouraged to attend the conference with their parents.


The Assignment Notebook

An Assignment Notebook - owned and used by each student in grades three through eight - is the first tool used by all teachers as a means of communicating with parents.  Teachers write notes to parents in the Assignment Notebook, especially when an assignment has not been turned in properly, and hope to receive notes back from parents – also written in the Assignment Notebook.


SMOS Teacher’s Web Page

The website is used by all teachers to communicate essential information about their child’s learning environment.  Teachers use their SMOS teacher’s pages to keep parents informed of behavioral, effort and learning expectations.  It is through the SMOS web pages that teachers will:

  • delineate the curriculum content and skills to be learned over the course of each quarter;
  • describe the sorts of effort expected in order that real learning takes place, including expectations for homework;
  • define the sort of behavior in and out of the classroom that increases learning potential and success.


Fast Direct – electronic system for record keeping

Fast Direct, accessed through the internet, is used very differently from the web site.  Fast Direct, besides being used to publish grades, is also used by all teachers to let parents know about long-term assignments and upcoming tests.  For assignments, study guides, rubrics and upcoming tests parents and students should go to the teacher’s bulletin board on Fast Direct.


E-mail, E-messages and Phone Calls

E-mail (, e-message (Fast Direct) and personal phone calls are all utilized as a means of communicating to parents when a student is not progressing academically, or not behaving appropriately and therefore detracting from the learning environment.  (For more details see Communications)


St. Margaret of Scotland Grading Scale: Academic and Behavioral

The grading scale for both academic and behavioral accomplishments varies by grade levels.


Early Childhood Classes

The preschool, kindergarten and first grade, differ from the rest of the school and from each other.  Their grading scales are intended to meet the needs of the younger student. Assessment for the young child is grounded in teacher observation of the student’s skills and understanding  of concepts than scores on quizzes or tests.  Please refer to the appendix for a sample of the preschool, kindergarten and first grade report cards.


Second through Eighth Grade – Behavior

The second through fifth grade use a “conduct grade” which in grounded in the SMOS behavioral code.

Speak and act with care

Demonstrates a Christian attitude

Acts with respect towards adults

Acts with respect towards peers

Expresses feelings appropriately

Assumes responsibility

Works and plays collaboratively with other students

Respects property of others

Make sure you wear our uniform with pride

Makes an effort to dress according to uniform code

Maintains a neat appearance

Dresses appropriately when out of uniform

On time all the time

Uses time effectively in class

Completes homework on time

Comes to school with necessary supplies

Stop, look and listen

Contributes to the learning environment

Keeps materials organized

Follows directions in the classroom

Follows rules outside the classroom

Respects authority beyond the classroom

Exhibits self-control


The departmental grades of sixth, seventh and eighth utilizes a general conduct grade that emphasizes evaluating the student’s behavior during the “down times” beyond the structured classroom. These are times such as: time spent in the hall traveling from class to class, time spent in morning and afternoon homeroom, trips to the bathroom, and recess and lunch times.

O – Outstanding         S – Satisfactory          NI – Needs improvement       U - Unsatisfactory


Second through Eighth Grade – Academic

St. Margaret of Scotland Parish School uses the grading scale recommended by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

A+       99 – 100          B+       91 – 92            C+       83 – 84            D+       75 – 76

A         95 – 98            B         87 – 90            C         79 – 82            D         72 – 74

A-        93 – 94            B-        85 – 86            C-        77 – 78            D-        70 – 71

F – below 70%            T – taught but not graded                   X – needs improvement




Promotion Procedures

To pass a subject for the year a student must earn an average of three credit points or better during the four quarters.  The credit point evaluation for letter grades is the following:

   A = 4 points                B = 3 points

                        C = 2 points                D = 1 point



Major subjects are defined as those subjects that a student attends daily: religion, language arts and math for students in kindergarten through fourth grade and religion, language arts, math, science and social studies for students in fifth through eighth grades.  A student who earns three or fewer points for the year in three or more major subjects is not eligible for promotion until verification of the successful completion of a professional tutoring program or summer school program. 


NOTE: Payment in full must be made for all financial obligations to the school before the day of graduation.  Within 10 days prior to graduation, the local administration has the right to require a specific method of payment.                                 (Archdiocese of St. Louis

                                                                        Administrative Manual for Catholic Education, 2006)


Instructional Opportunities Beyond the Classroom

SMOS Library

The school library is staffed by a host of parent, parishioner, and grandparent volunteers who give their time and talents so that our students will have access to a top quality learning facility filled with books of every sort: young children’s literature, novels, biographies, non-fiction, reference, and more.  All students in preschool through 7th grade access the library at least once each week.  The library is supported by generous donations, the annual holiday fundraiser at Borders, and the annual Scholastic Book Fair.


Field Trips

St. Margaret of Scotland Parish School promotes field trips as a means of enriching classroom instruction.  Field trips will comply with Missouri Law and Archdiocesan policies concerning field trips and safety guidelines.  All drivers and chaperones will have completed Protecting God’s Children requirements.                                                            (School Board, 4/17/2007)


Field Trips provide another way of extending and integrating learning. The fact that the school is in close proximity to cultural institutions allows teachers to utilize these valuable assets in a variety of ways. Parent participation is encouraged on field trips as an opportunity to become more familiar with the child’s learning and their classmates.

  • A general permission slip must be completed for each student at the beginning of each year. This covers any local neighborhood excursions and trips to the church.
  • In order to participate in any other field trip away from the building a special form provided for that occasion must be completed and signed by the parent / guardian prior to the trip.
  • Parent/ guardian chaperone must have completed or be in the process of completing Protecting God’s Children Program.  (See Organizations and Opportunities for more information)


Schools should take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of students when they are being transported for educational field trips, athletic events, and other off-campus school activities.

  • Drivers must have a valid, non-probationary driver’s license and no physical disability that may impair the ability to drive safely.
  • The vehicle should have a valid registration and meet safety requirements.
  • The vehicle must be insured for minimum limits of $100,000 per person, $300,000 for occurrence.
  • Drivers should be experienced drivers and demonstrate the maturity necessary to provide for the safety of those they are transporting.
  • Every person in the private vehicle must wear a seat belt.
    • Children younger than four yeas of age, regardless of weight, are required to use an appropriate car seat.
    • Children weighing less than 40 lb, regardless of age, are required to use an appropriate car seat.
    • Children who are between the ages of 4 and 8 and weigh more than 40 lb but less than 80 are required to use an appropriate car seat or booster seat.

                                                               (Archdiocese of St. Louis

                                                            Administrative Manual for Catholic Education, 2006)