being a teacher, grades, reflection

What the Report Card Doesn’t Tell

image from icanread

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?

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. 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. 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

  4. 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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