“When do we get our report cards?” B asks.
“At the end of the day,” I tell him.
“If I get more 4s than 3s I get to go to a movie,” A says to B.
They are so excited, you’d think it was Christmas. They can’t wait.
I agonize over report cards. And I don’t mean just the tremendously long time it takes to input them. I mean giving a student a number (4 being the highest) that measures them as a reader and most upsettingly as a writer, is painful.
In the Before Common Core period we were to assign grades based on what we thought the student would score on the state standards test. In other words, if their report card said “3” the prediction was that the student would score as “proficient” on the test. Over years of collecting state testing and reading assessment data, we had a fairly predicable correlation. Now with the new and improved testing, all bets are off. .We know itis a lot harder. We know our students have had no real experience in this kind of testing environment. We know, based on other state’s experiences (think New York), the scores will be lower. Add this into my grading angst.
Back to my classroom.
At the end of the day, I pass out the report cards. Every year I tell them to wait to open it till they get home with their parent. And every year they open them as soon as they get them, like Christmas presents, count the 2s, 3s, and 4s, and share with their neighbors.
One student has totaled the numbers up. She’s smiling. She likes the ratio.
“I love reading the comments one student says, look what I got, ‘Shows growth in reading.’ ”
These are the students I don’t worry about too much. They are the ones that love school. Generally they are pretty good at it.
My worry is for the student who got 2s in reading and writing. They are readers and writers, they just haven’t met the level of expectation yet. This is the nature of learning. Do they know that? Is the power of yet present in a student’s mind? Or is another “2” another confirmation that says- I’m not good enough, or I’m not a good reader, or worst of all I don’t like reading.
The facts are this: report cards aren’t going away and we teachers value assessment in the light of next steps. So here is my pie-in-the-sky wish: a report card that shows a progression of growth and expectation.. When a student opens up their report card, their conversation becomes:
Here I am.
Here is my goal.
I’m getting there (or) I’m not there yet,
Where do I need to work?
This could be done. It has been done with the writing checklists from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Units of Study. Why couldn’t we do this same thing for the Common Core Standards, at least in elementary school. Maybe I’m crazy, and I know it wouldn’t be easy, but it might make report cards something to get excited about.