When report cards are given is an emotional time for students, parents, and teachers alike. Things like transcripts, Grade Point Averages, and standardized testing means high stakes for everyone.
Teaching, and then measuring learning, is a very complex endeavor. A music teacher, gym teacher and an English teacher have such different pedagogical methods that no one type of evaluation can meet the needs of all.
So I ask: With grades, what are the universal truths?
My grades are underwater, that is, below C level
Grades on a youngster's report card aren't judging the worth of their whole existence. They are meant as a representative sampling of strengths and weaknesses so as to plot a course for improvement. Yet, so many youngsters see their grades as oppression from the adults in their lives.
Let's all take a step back and inject some sanity into this. Parents deserve a truthful answer to this question from teachers: What is my son good at vis-a-vis his peers? What is my daughter not good at vis-a-vis her peers?
Perhaps one day schools will go without report cards
Here's a good debate question for your dinner conversation tonight: Would abolishing grades in school help or hurt student learning? The answer cuts both ways.
Let's not forget: A report card is nothing more than a snapshot in time, just a representation of where a youngster is at one particular moment. Like standing in a river--refuse can surround you, but the current is bringing you fresh water all the time. Something new is always just around the bend.
Grades aren't meant to punish or control students. They are meant as incentives to stimulate curiosity and to plan a course of improvement.
Please spend less than five minutes to learn about report cards in this video.
I try to offer insights from both sides, for parents to see grading from a teacher's perspective and for teachers to view it from where the parents sit. I've posted on parallel topics too, the tricky issue of "extra credit", making the best use of parent-teacher conferences and avoiding grade inflation and social promotion.
I hope they help.
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