Day 72 (of 184) report cards. Sigh.
Why the sigh?
In a school where there is enough anxiety that we have made self-regulation a school goal, the periodic reporting of student achievement can be …… nevermind ….. IS a trigger of great stress.
Despite claims that ‘keep the first term letter grades low so the students have an incentive to work harder’, I have yet to see learning play out that way.
More often the letter grades bring out sighs – sometimes of relief because they’ll get paid from their parents and sometimes because despite their efforts they still didn’t so as well as ‘that other kid’. Neither really is a sigh of ‘learning well’.
And even when we try to be proactive it goes bad – one parent talked with her child about the report card ‘marks’ the night before. It didn’t go well when math was the topic. Why? Well a C+ doesn’t really tell the story of how she has been overcoming her anxiety about math (hatred might be a better word) nor her self confidence which continues to blossom. Instead it brought out tears – because while she gets ‘right answers’ that is only part of the story of numeracy. And that C+ doesn’t tell the right part of the story of her learning.
We are shifting to portfolios as a means to (better/more completely?) communicate student learning. We are going to explore methodologies that cannot easily be taken out of context. % are going to be 100% gone. We are going to get an A+ on ditching the alphabet game. And on any rubric I’m sure we’ll be achieving at least ‘fully meeting’.
But we are going to let the students work speak for itself. We will still use performance standards. We will look at learning and achievement as an ongoing process – not something that ends because a term is up. Learning is a continuum and even if we don’t have ‘a’ template or format (yet) we know we will be able to: communicate student leaning. Not assess them the same way a cut of beef is.
Report cards had their purpose, but as education continues to shift, so should the way we talk and show classroom success and student strengths and areas for growth. We should be doing different than a paper document that (while it’s had many face lifts) is rooted in methodology from a previous era.
I am looking forward to now starting a pilot project on portfolios in lieu of report cards for the remainder of the year. I’m not sure where this journey will end up, but I’m happy that it is underway!