Report Card Wows and Woes
Some kids get a laptop.
Some kids get grounded.
Other kids get a pat on the back. (… me)
In a child’s educational career, report card season can be one of the scariest and most dreaded times of the year. Every student wants to do well in school, but when it comes to report cards, their successes or shortcomings are in plain view for their teachers and parents to see. Can, then, the stress that comes along with distributing report cards be overshadowed because of the importance they contain?
Many teachers would probably say that report cards might be the least favourite part of their job. No, not because they take a very long time to write. Rather, it is difficult for teachers to represent months of a student’s accomplishments and experiences on a single sheet of paper represented by a single grade. If not analyzed properly, students and teachers might only see the grade and pass judgement based on that. However, it is almost impossible to paint a complete picture a months of work for anyone under those circumstances.
Despite multiple criticisms about the process, report cards are essential for informing parents of student progress, as they traditionally serve as the overall measure of assessment of a child’s success in school. Growing Success, albeit a government document, discusses the purpose of report cards:
“The report card grade represents a student’s achievement of overall curriculum expectations, as demonstrated to that point in time” (page 39).
This information can be used to communicate to students, parents, school administration, psychologists, and even college and university admission departments. So, yes, report cards do serve a useful purpose in the educational development of a student.
But back to my initial question: Can the stress that comes along with distributing report cards be overshadowed because of the importance they contain? I think the main problem with this whole situation is that there is stress, period. I understand that some students may not be proud of a particular mark they received, nor do they want to share it with their parents. Cooper had a great response to this topic, as one of his Guiding Principles states:
“A report card grade should not be a surprise to the teacher who determine it, nor to the student and parent who receive it” (page 212).
This is to say that teachers should be aware of all of their student’s progress, the student should be a self-reflective learner and know where they sit in terms of their achievement, and parents should be active members of their child’s education, thus getting involved with their learning and having check-ins with the teacher along the way.
And if parents or students are still scared about the upcoming report card distribution, you could always send home this letter a few days before they’re released: