Sunday, March 2, 2014

Slice of Life: Report Cards 3/2

I am participating again this year in the Slice of Life challenge in which we write a slice every day in March.  If you are interested in joining in, visit the Two Writing Teachers blog for more information.

This week, I need to get my report cards ready to send home.  I have to turn them in on Friday and my principal will then read them and give feedback so that we can correct them and have them ready to give out next week.  I always dread this time of year because I feel like there is so much information that we need to share with parents and this is such a short (and confusing) document.

A few years ago, we switched to a standards-based report card.  This means that I give students proficiency scores on each of the standards in each area rather than giving one letter grade for each subject.  I am glad that we report student progress in this way, but there are so many people that are confused by our system that it makes report card day a dreaded time in my building.

Compounding the problem is the fact that I work in a large urban district and the students are far from proficient in many categories.  Helping parents to understand that the effort score is really what tells them if their child is doing everything they can to make progress is very difficult.  Our society is so set in the traditional grading system and so many people think that grades are all about jumping through the hoops and handing things in.  I don't know what the solution is, but I do wish more people would understand that a score of Basic or even Minimal in a standard does not automatically mean that the student is not doing everything he/she can do and making progress.

The last few years have been extra frustrating because by the time I get students in 8th grade, many of them are very far behind.  Getting 8th graders to understand that doing "extra credit" is not going to change their score (unless the extra practice helps them get proficient) is really challenging.

As I enter into this week in which every waking hour will be spent grading and writing report card comments, these thoughts scramble through my head.  I hope that with the comments I write parents will be able to understand how their child is really doing in school.


  1. It sounds as though you, like me spend countless hours preparing these report cards. We have a rubric-based system in my district and many of the grades do not even align. I spend so much time on the comments so that parents can hang their hats on something since the grades do not reveal all.

  2. We use a traditional grading system and I really don't like it. I have not used anything different so I can't really base my opinion on anything. I think letter grades are confusing. I mean what exactly does an A or a B in reading mean? There is talk about going to standard-based but that will probably be awhile. Good luck.