Report cards are going home for term 2 already. It feels like just yesterday was November and if you look outside the window…well it looks like just yesterday it was November. All that aside report cards are going tomorrow and as I look mine over I have some thoughts to share on assessment and why all of it is important but not what we should all be putting all of our focus on.
First lets start with report cards themselves. The jury is still out on what the best way to go about reporting student progress is. Objective based report cards may very well be making their way school division wide and I would welcome that but as of now there are many different things floating around. Some schools have a set way of reporting for all grades others do not. Some use outcome based reporting, actually stating where each student is according to the program of studies, others the classic grade system others still a progress report. In the end the report card is really only as good as what it is measuring and how much it informs the parents, students and other teachers.
So what about that information? What does a 4 out of a 4 point scale in math mean? What does “Developing” mean when looking at an outcome based report card and the outcome “represent numbers concretely”? Really it means nothing without the conversation with the teacher. A monthly progress report is great but it does not replace a conversation because the power is in the discussion on achievement not just the number scale or descriptor.
A 4 in art for example could be excelling in all Art but that hardly does justice to the student who crafts beautiful paintings while the rest of the students just achieve the outcome. Achievement needs to be more than a number, more than a descriptor. Achievement should be a celebration.
The student that makes incredible gains in reading deserves more than a letter or number on a report card, they deserve a celebration of their achievement. A superior athlete should not be limited to the same grade as those who just put in the effort, athletes work hard and deserve to be celebrated for their skills. The same can be said for gifted musicians, mathematicians, history buffs, actors and all other types of students.
By taking the focus off the score on a report card and placing it back on the achievements, great and small, we will build students confidence and in doing so motivation and ability. Now just to find a way to report on that 🙂