At conferences I pulled them out and asked the students about the highlighted areas. Blank stares. I then prodded a little bit more, why would you give yourself this grade, what was your thought process? Blank stare, then cleared throats,….”I’m actually not sure what that means so I just put a number there…”
These kids, even after I explain what the things are I am grading them on, they have no clue what it really is. Perhaps it is due to poorly written report card language, perhaps it is due to not speaking educationalese, perhaps it is due to that what we grade them on most of the time seems to bear little resemblance to what we do in our classrooms, the discussions we have. Sure, we discuss and use the term comprehension strategies but if they are all lumped together in one box, then how will a child know if they use all of them well or just some of them. How will they know what that even means, to use them? And does it really matter? Parents don’t know what they mean either and they come armed with years of schooling and college degrees. So we think of attaching explanation sheets to the report cards just so they can have some sort of a clue as to the terms we so flippantly throw around. Now do you get it, it seems to scream.
We move toward better report cards so that we hope to better tell parents what their child has mastered or not, but in the end, when we create report cards that bear little resemblance to the conversation that happens within the classroom, what does it really matter? Should I once again change the way I teach to make sure I use terms that will appear on a reportcard, even though those terms do not always fit what we are teaching or even within the understanding of my students? Should I barge on, use the terms, just so students may know what they mean when they get their grades? Or should we ask the students what the report card should look like so that they could take ownership of their learning journey?
I dont have the answers, do you?