Day 68 (of 185) the pains of retro (aka back to reading report cards)

Day 68 (of 185) the pains of retro (aka back to reading report cards)

Sometimes “going retro” is great – I’m really looking forward to getting my bands on a Nintendo Classic when more become available! Sometimes it’s not so fun…like using a bell curve when grading. 

And now that I’m at a new school, I’m remembering more what I don’t like about report cards: great teachers trying to make the report card do more than what it is designed for…

When focusing on safety, we always emphasize “using a tool for what it is designed for” – so we don’t stand on tables to put things up on the wall, that is what ladders are for. And we know some roll try to “modify” the tools to meet the tasks – hammering in screws, duct tape for….well anything that WD40 doesn’t work on….

But I no longer believe any amount of duct tape or WD40 can make report cards be tools for descriptive feedback. They aren’t timely enough; there is an over abundance of “canned comments” (I’m okay with recycling appropriate comments but the auto loaded ‘comment 16’ doesn’t feel right with what we have learned around the brain and Learning). 

Even while at a soccer tournament for middle school years, I overheard a traditional comment about “Bs” – specifically “my child had to understand a B still means very good” <– and my worry remains: telling a final score vs how to improve…..does 73% mean the same as 85%? Is there 25% of content the learner doesn’t know? Or a strategy? Or a test whose information may change later (thinking specifically of old science tests asking to indicate a tongues taste regions vs how we know now that the tongue does not taste based on regions… should my old biology units be reassessed??)
I appreciate seeing student improvement over time via archived artifacts of learning on eportfolios. 
I like seeing the ‘highlight moments’ that occur for individual learners that may not show up on traditional assessments. 
I know that a descriptive feedback loop is much more powerful of a motivation tool than chasing numerical targets (especially when “A’s aren’t given in term one so students have something to work towards”) – students either got it…or don’t…yet….

I stand by my claim that if I know the family & financial status & gender of a learner, I can create a report card that will be close….if I know the learner even a little, I’m more confident that I can be within a reasonable margin of error….I also know that I cannot possibly recreate samples of students learnings that we see in eportfolios. Nor can I take part in a descriptive feedback loop without having a relationship with the learner.  

I am using this reflection time to analyze some ways to help my nds families understand both the “why” we should be moving on from report cards while also having a ‘translator’ to help transfer an understanding of ‘how school was’ for parents to ‘what it could be’….so there is more to follow!


About technolandy

Principaling on the Pacific in Powell River BC Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback to personalize learning!
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