After reading over 400 student report cards over the Easter weekend, I am left with several thoughts around assessment and reporting and that although I see many struggling students (either academically or socially), I have come to realise that my school has some outstanding students and staff.
First off, the students: many have had an amazingly successful term. The degree of learning is outstanding and that is a result of not only the students but their teachers. Trying new assessments, finding ways to connect and create constructive conceptual understandings of the subjects they are learning and teaching.
Now to reporting and assessment. Assessment practices are changing and many teachers are embracing the power of Assessment For Learning strategies and formative assessments. However, I have noticed that some use assessment strategies that were popular in the 80’s and 90’s (zeroes for missing assignments, no make up options, assessing work habits instead of learning outcomes). These assessments could be still useful, but I personally feel that they are missing vital components of a successful Assessment strategy: giving students multiple opportunities to demostrate the understanding of the learning outcomes.
As for the reports, themselves: With all the discussion around 21st Century Learning, Personalised Learning and seeing where technology can improve student learning, the report cards (well, report papers) seem an historical document that has not kept up with the times. Percentages, canned comments do not accurately reflect a student’s growth and learning in a particular subject. The reports also do not show the outstanding extra curricular/volunteer activities that a student has done in the term.
To this end, I would like to see reports cards that show:
1. Where a student is in learning the curriculum (perhaps a letter grade…)
2. How a student can improve (specific, individualised comment….)
3. What type of behaviours the student has in class (work habit……)
4. The type of extra-curricular activities the student is doing (sports, theatre, arts, volunteering, etc)
I would hope that one day, this type of report would accurately reflect the students’ progress, areas of strength and weaknesses, and how the students are developing their citizenship and skills for life after school.
Just some thoughts, but some type of improvement in reporting would be amazing. A parent, student or other teacher should be able to look at the report as a mini snapshot of student’s learning.