Report Card Overhaul

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4th, 2011 by dkerr

So this week I’d like to talk about something that has been on my mind for over a year now, and something that a few of us have been working on (researching, discussing, and drafting) eagerly since the beginning of August. Our current report card is, in my opinion, antiquated and in serious need of an overhaul, and we’re currently on the road to creating one that will separate out pure student achievement, from student habits and student attributes of a learner. Essentially, the way that it is now unfortunately allows for all grades to be muddled together (homework, participation, preparedness, organization…….as well as formative and summative assessments), which can paint an unauthentic picture of student learning and what a student has actually mastered conceptually.

For example, it is now possible with our current report card system for a student to receive a grade of 85 because they completed all of their homework, they participated regularly in class, they are consistently organized and attentive, and they are on time and enthusiastic every day, BUT ……….they score 70 or less on their two quarterly summative assessments. What we are currently reporting does not effectively reflect how much or how little a student has learned in a particular class, and it certainly doesn’t give us a clear understanding of what standards a student has met throughout the year. By separating the two pieces out, we will gain a much better understanding, and a more authentic representation of what a student has achieved academically (number grade), as well as a clear picture of how a student approaches learning through their attitude and effort (Rubric grade).

Tammy, Greg and I first started having these conversations this time last year, and it is now at the point (after months of small group discussion, small pilot programs, and loads of research into what is best practice in respected International Schools around the world) where we will bring the entire faculty into the discussion at our December 14th full faculty meeting. Jeff Smith has been leading the charge this year with his morning HAL (Habits and Attributes of a Learner) rubric meetings, and a few teachers have been taking the lead on trialing a rubric that will essentially be used to gauge a student’s approach to learning. We’ve been adding, editing, revising, wordsmithing, and garnering feedback on the rubric and we now feel like we have a workable model to show you. Obviously this is a process, and there still is much to do before we roll this out to the students and the parent community but I wanted to give you a heads up that much of our conversation after the break will be focused on this split, as well as grading expectations in general and the idea of grade inflation.

We want to get to a place where students are being graded authentically, and to where teachers are all using the same criteria and scale when setting a student achievement grade, or a HAL grade. Our goal is to have this in place for next school year (which will end a process of 18 months from start to finish), and very much in place when our Spring WASC self study visit occurs. I’m looking forward to hearing everyone’s perspective on this, and to receiving your input on how we can make this as educationally sound as possible. It is important that everyone has ownership of the process and a chance to add to the discussions as we move forward. The intent is to make our reporting and grading system as strong and current as possible, and to give students an honest representation of how they’re faring in relation to their academic achievement, and their approach to learning. Have a great week everyone (only two to go!), and remember to be great for our kids and good to each other.

Quote of the Week………
Grades have long been identified by those in the measurement community as prime examples of unreliable measurements.
– Thomas Guskey

Article #1- Report Cards Emphasizing Student Mastery Report Cards Emphasizing Student Mastery
Article #2- Overcoming Obstacles to Better Grading Thomas Guskey on Overcoming Obstacles to Better Grading
Article #3- Grading Policies Douglas Reeves on Grading Policies