Parents- I’m talking to you. What do you want to see on your child’s report card? What type of information do you want their teacher to tell you? And how do you want it reported? In language that you struggle to understand or have to Google? Or in basic/blunt statements- “Your child can read at grade level”? Do you want pages and pages of abstract words trying to define your child with numbers or letters that you barely comprehend? Or would you rather a short synopsis from your child’s teacher describing their academic and social behavior, highs, and lows?
I’m completing my report cards for my kindergarten students and I am frustrated, annoyed, and disappointed. I strongly dislike filling these out for many reasons. I don’t think they accurately portray the child’s strengths and weaknesses, I don’t think it is parent (or even teacher) friendly, and I don’t like the ambiguity and vague nature of the descriptors.
In “The World According to Jenna” (a book that my boyfriend and I hope to write and publish someday- that’s a post for another day), I would grade my kindergartners on the following:
Can they recognize/write their letters?
Do they know letter sounds? (___/___)
Can they recognize sight words? (___/___)
Do they demonstrate the following skills needed to succeed reading at intended grade level?
Use picture to tell a story
Decoding skills (beginning/middle/end sounds)
Etc…(you get the point)
What level are they currently reading at?
Can they write a sentence?
Can they write multiple sentences?
How high can they count?
Can they count by 5s/10s? (how high?)
Can they recognize #’s 1-20? (can they recognize more?!)
Can they write their numbers?
Can they add within 5?
Can they subtract within 5?
Can they add within 10?
Can they subtract within 10?
…you get my point. The “basics”. And the language- parent friendly, am I right? Currently our report cards say things like “Applies grade-level phonics skills to decode words” and “Writes using basic print concepts.”
To us (teachers), it’s easier to understand- we hear those terms on a more frequent basis and we use those terms when creating goals and providing our administration with information- all because those terms are “correct” and “more professional”. But what about those who don’t know what those terms mean? Does a report card filled with that language appeal to parents who don’t hear that language? And does it even really paint an accurate picture of their child’s abilities?
I’d love to write a paragraph about each child to their parents. That paragraph would be filled with their child’s strengths, sprinkled with a few things they need to work on, and topped with their behaviors and personalities that I see in the classroom. I want the parents to know that I see the whole child. I observe and teach the whole child, not just parts.
I hate filling out report cards. But report card time means conference time; and I love mid year conferences. I get to shower the parents with their students work, growth, and funny stories. I can explain everything I want to (within a 20min time period) and hope that the parents feel confident in knowing where their child is academically, socially, and emotionally- again, it’s all about the whole child, not just the “school stuff”. 🙂