Why report cards get an F — 4 Comments

  1. I think the report cards are fine as long as schools and teachers are providing constant communication. This communication allows the report card to serve as a summary/verifier of what the parents already know.

  2. Thanks Brian. I think you’ve nailed it. Unfortunately, the default often is just the report card with a series of numbers or letters with little context. The result is that folks know 76 is better than 65 or a B is better than a C+ but not really why. The complete information you describe (and that teachers can articulate clearly) is the way to go.

  3. I agree with your comments, Tom. We worked hard as a staff to develop a consistent set of comments by teachers that relate to the strengths of a student, area(s) that need improvement and a statement related to the student’s work ethic, behavior, attitude toward the course work. We still meet the requirements set forth by the jurisdiction when it comes to ‘marks’ as in Alberta, we are very data driven in everything we do. However, we’ve tried to truly put the emphasis on the comments that we make about the student. In the end, the summative piece is, and has to be, a judgement by the professional. I always compare this to the doctor who gathers data and makes a final assesment. We as teachers, tend to make the grade our final call, but truthfully, the comment is what should and hopefully does carry the weight as nothing is final until the last key stroke in a mark statement. In the end, to change the entire pedagogical approach will take an effort from more than just educators at the elementary or secondary level. It will take a change in the vision of a post-secondary school as well as often grades are used as the only criteria for entrance into these educational facilities. Lots of work to do, but years of doing it one way doesn’t mean we can’t find the right way! What does that look like I wonder…

  4. Hi Tom,

    As a teacher working on a pilot project in our school district to devise different ways of reporting to parents without letter grades, I am very interested in learning more about the study you refer to in this article. Do you have a link you could post or potential send to my email? I’d really like to read it. Thanks so much for your efforts to stimulate change in the right direction.