Pete Gilbert">

Riddle of the Report Card

I found one of my old report cards the other day.

It was a single, half-sheet of paper.

It listed six school subjects.

It also had a small box next to the name of each subject where the teacher could enter a letter grade, and that was it!

My third grader got her report card the other day.

It was 10 pages long.

The first page contained a “Proficiency Levels Explanation,” with one to three additional bullet points further explaining each proficiency level.

The following nine pages listed each of the seven standards along with 24 sub categories for the state standards. In each of the 24 boxes there were numbers from 1-5 depending on whether my daughter showed No Evidence, Little Evidence, Some Evidence, Expanding Evidence, or Clear Evidence of each specific topic, and in most cases a short description written by the teacher. Are you still with me?

Her report card was mind boggling.

Why does it have to be so complicated? What was wrong with the system used for generations before this? More importantly, how is this new way better? For me, I wasn’t looking at the 4s and 5s my daughter received, it became a game of find the 3s. I barely even knew what a 3 represented, but surely my daughter showed more than “some evidence” she, “Writes narratives that retell sequenced events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use transitional words, and provide closure.”

Maybe the better question to ask is, “Who is benefitting from all of this?” It certainly isn’t the teachers. 24 different sections to assess x 25 kids in the classroom= 600 assessments and comments every nine weeks. You can double check my arithmetic on that if you want, but my old report card said I got an A in math, or as it would be called today, I showed “clear evidence” in math class.

Are the kids benefitting from it? Doubtful. As a kid, I knew if I brought home a report card that wasn’t mostly As and Bs, I was in trouble. If I printed my daughter’s report card off my computer and showed it to her, she would have no clue where to begin making sense of it all. It seems these longer standards based report cards create a disconnect between kids and their grades.

Maybe the intention is to benefit the parents. The newer report cards definitely give more information than the old ones used to, but not all parents want all that extra information. My guess is, many parents want to look at a sheet of paper with a clear summary of what their child is up to at school and then stick it on the fridge. There will always be a few parents wanting more information and surely they will seek out the teacher regardless of the length of the report card.

What do you think? Am I in the minority on this one. Leave me a comment and help me find the benefits to these expanded report cards. If we can’t find any, then let’s go back to the old ones.

While you’re leaving a comment, I’m going to refill my printer’s ink cartridge so I can print off all ten pages of my daughter’s report card and put it on my fridge, just like my parents used to do.

-Pete

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