What the Report Card Doesn’t Tell

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I am about to start report cards.  Being a teacher that doesn’t believe in grades for assessment but would rather do feedback, I always struggle at this time of year.  How do I put into words all of the things that I have seen my students do in in the last few months?  How do I quantify how they have grown?  There just seems to be so many thing a report card doesn’t tell us.

It doesn’t tell the story of the child that has worked so hard every day yet has made little academic progress.

It doesn’t tell the story of the boy who hated to read and now has read two books already.

Or the story of the child who thinks he is the world’s worst writer but did an assignment all on his own.

It doesn’t tell the story of the girl who struggles with self esteem and thus doesn’t want to shine a light on herself even though she should.

Or the child that reads a book a night but is too shy to discuss it.

Or the child who knows everything there is about DNA but doesn’t know his letter sounds.

It doesn’t tell the story of the child who knows more than their mind lets them show.

Or even the story of a teacher who tries every day to get these kids to believe in themselves and their ability to change the world.  which grade do I assign all of that?

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12 thoughts on “What the Report Card Doesn’t Tell

  1. I feel lucky because in my school district in British Columbia, Canada, I can and sometimes do say exactly what you’re thinking here in my report cards. The School District supplies boilerplate comments for teachers to use, but I almost always write my own. So much more meaningful for parents. I also notice the complete lack of teacher jargon in your language… again better for parents. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

  2. carriegelson says:

    Oh Pernille how I appreciate this post! I too struggle attaching grades to my intermediate reports (I teach a 2/3/4 class) as grades to me are “fixed” when my classroom is all about “growth” So. . . I write these and try to find ways to make the reports about what is important everyday in our classroom. In the opening comments of each report I am including: a celebration moment, a strength, an area of growth, and an area for continued attention and growth. I want these reports to reflect our movement and change as learners and celebrate the moments that showcase the growth and magic in each child. It’s hard. I get very, very grumpy at this time. Thank you as always for capturing your love of your learners.

  3. […] a blog post about report cards Pernille Ripp, talks about how she doesn’t like to give grades based on assessment.  She […]

  4. […] article  is one that a teacher wrote just as report cards were coming out. She goes on to say how she […]

  5. […] found What The Report Card Doesn’t Tell very interesting. I never really thought about what the report card doesn’t tell a student or […]

  6. […] tell the story her students have to tell about their semester in a one of 5 letters. In her blog, What the Report Card Doesn’t Tell , she let’s us know the many angles people can look at education and students. How students […]

  7. […] as the teacher discusses in this blog, I will find it difficult to put a single letter grade on a piece of paper to describe the students […]

  8. […] This blog post is so inspirational. It talks about all the things that a report card CAN’T tell.  It talks about one of the hardest “paperwork” that a teacher has to do.  It talks about how hard it is to assign a letter grade to a child and not take into account all of the personal aspects that make up the students.  For example, how do you give a kid a grade for not participating in class when you know that they have poor self esteem because they are picked on both in and outside of the classroom?  How do you give a child a poor grade when they worked harder than any other kid in class but still couldn’t grasp a concept? […]

  9. I’m right there with you. Report cards were always so hard for me to do. I’m not sure if I took them seriously enough, because I know parents usually.

    I agree with you, and I’d add one thing. It’s so demoralizing to kids when they can’t see their progress on a report card.

    My district uses a 1,2,3,4 rubric. Even with much growth, many kids stay a 2 for much of the year, but they don’t get to see their growth on the report card.

    It still makes me sad.

    – @newfirewithin

  10. ariadnep says:

    In our goals, we’re required to chart our students’ growth in data, which is so hard to do in a foreign language classroom. I want so much to write ‘this child could say nothing at the beginning of the year and is now saying really basic sentences.’ How can you quantify progress, growth and celebration of learning? Bah, humbug.

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