Friday, November 23, 2007

Report cards.........

I teach Grade 6/7 in Kingston, Ontario, and am currently part of a pilot project (along with a number of teachers in a number of schools across the city).. Instead of a traditional report card, with marks and comments that you need to understand "edu-ese" in order to get through, these new reports are not about marks but about progress. Hunh? Well, imagine that. The teachers fill out a report form on each kid, that looks a heck of a lot like the kind of forms I send home around midterm time, and in it, I let the parents know if their child is showing limited progress, or progressing with difficulty, or progressing well, in each of the subjects (we're talking a sort of continuum line checklist) and how they are doing in areas of homework completion and conflict resolution and about 10 other areas (Excellent, Good or Needs Improvement). Then I interview every parent, and talk to them for (supposedly) 15 minutes, and that's it for the report cards. What do you think? I actually like this project. A few parents have said that they want the marks. Well, sometimes, it is difficult to do the mark thing at the first term (and we are actually not yet done the first term- it goes until Christmas)-because we have to do baseline in this, and authentic assessment in that, and diagnostic in this other- so what have we taught? The reports were faster to do than in other years- the check mark was nice, as was the notion that I didn't have to write comments for each subject (which, truthfully, is a gigantic pain in the nether regions). But I really liked the interviews. I could say things in these interviews that I would be hard pressed to write on a report. My body language, or comments leading up to the message- whatever- easier to say out in the open rather than couched in edu-terms that sometimes mean absolutely nothing to the parent. So what are your ideas?

3 comments:

DianeS said...

The canned comments that used to appear on DD's report card were so lame. This pilot program sounds interesting, but I would wonder if it will be objective (may not be the right word) enough when it comes to pass/fail and progressing (or not) to the next grade.

freshisle said...

Interesting. I agree, first term is always too short for the mark to be a true reflection of progress. Interviews are time consuming but then again so are report cards!

Alison said...

I found your blog by googling "knitting" and "poodle..."

Anyway, I thought you'd be interested in this grading tale from my childhood. Throughout the 70's, my high school adopted an alternative grading system to get away from the oversimplification of standard grades. The highest grade was HH for "high honors," then H for "honors," then S for "satisfactory," P for "passing," and finally NC for "no credit." Besides the fact that it galled my parents to call the third grade down out of four "satisfactory," it also took a surprisingly long time for the school system to figure out how precisely "HH, H, S, P, and NC" translated into "A, B, C, D, and F." :-)