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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Report Card Weekend

One section of the current report card. 
Writing report cards looms over my head right now.

Mostly I'm realizing that in some cases the report card is a frustrating affair for teachers and families alike. Why?

If you're that high achieving child who is ahead of the class from the start it's likely that you'll receive all high grades or checks (we don't grade by letter codes instead such as EP for exceeding expectations and PI for progressing independently). If you're that EP child it's likely you come from a home where learning is supported and that your natural learning attributes and supportive experiences have helped you learn well all along. Yet when you're that child that gets PB (below grade level) it's likely that some pattern of nature or life has left you less prepared for the grade-level learning. Perhaps you were a premie and had trouble with learning-related events from the start or perhaps your mom or dad always worked around the clock leaving little time or money for the extra learning-related supports such as travel, museum visits, reading books, playing math games, or talking together. Further you might be one of those passionate children whose true passion lies outside of the regular education sphere--maybe you listen to and write music all day and will one day be a prominent musician, but when it comes to the stamina, interest, and drive for typical school work, you're not that child.

So as I think about writing report cards today, I'm wondering about the report card's value. Yes, it gives family members a snapshot of where a child is compared to the current curriculum expectations and their similar-age/context peer group. The report also tells the story of your child's present stamina, attitude, and contribution. Parents can take a look at the report and find out where their child stands with respect to his/her peers and the academic program, and this may help parents guide their children in some respects.

Yet, what guidance is most important when it comes to developing strong, confident children who live lives and contribute with joy, happiness, care, and success. I think it's important to take a look at the reports and see them for what they are--a snapshot of your child's performance related to current school expectations and his/her similar-age/context peer group. However, I think it's also important to think about who your child is holistically--consider his/her broad self with a focus on his/her wonderful strengths and character. Ask, What does this child bring to the world that is special, unique, and wonderful, and how can I support and encourage my child's wonderful gifts?

As I write reports tomorrow, I'll focus the checks on where the child's multiple assessments show him/her to be with regard to the grade-level standards and expectations, yet my commentary will speak to the whole child including what each child brings to our school, his/her great gifts and contribution.

As our children grow I believe it's a focus of 50% academic, social/emotional, and physical skills and attributes and 50% passions, interests, and strengths that forward our children to places of success and happiness. The report card is one small snapshot of a child's overall performance at a single time in his/her life, and should be treated as such.

Do you agree? What would you add to this conversation?