Dear Changemaker Parents and Supporters,
Although it still seems like the school year just started a few weeks ago, our first term is already coming to a close at the end of this week! Thank you to our amazing school community and parents for your support, care and hard work getting us successfully through to this point.
About Our Report Cards:
In the written narrative report cards this term, we have worked very hard to create a robust personalized ‘snapshot’ of your child’s unique strengths, areas of growth and challenges. Report comments are meant to serve as a window to student achievement in ways that demonstrates both the scope of their learning that took place as well as the degree of success students experienced within that learning scope. As a school, we are always looking for ways to support the whole child which includes social-emotional learning and the following cross-curricular competencies:
Narrative report cards may not be what you as a parent are used to. However, contemporary educational research indicates that narrative report cards are far more valuable than traditional number or grade-based report cards. Number or letter grades rarely offer an accurate representation of a student’s unique areas of growth, effort or potential. And yet it is these same unique areas that will form the foundation from which your child will build their successful learning style while retaining an enthusiasm for learning. Letter grades are very abstract to young children and do not actually reflect their developmental level or performance. Unless the grade was generated entirely from a carefully crafted standardized test where answers have only one clear right-or-wrong answer, the grade or number assigned by a teacher is entirely subjective and subject to inadvertent teacher bias. Even when designed and implemented properly, the standardized test does not account for the critical thinker or Changemaker. It simply tests for memorization and surface level understanding.
For those who are still uncomfortable about foregoing a more traditional report card, I’d like you to consider the following scenario - it’s a bit lengthy but please bear with me:
Imagine for a moment that you were in your second year of learning how to play hockey as an adult. Your instructor/coach will give you a report card for your various hockey skills. 1 represents a fail and a 4 represents excellence. Your team is made up of a group of 40 year olds who play in a semi-competitive non-professional adult league but they are of varying skill levels, abilities and backgrounds.
Now, we all know there are basic standards that need to be met. Can you stand up and skate with hockey gear on? Check. Good work. Then it starts getting trickier to assign a number: you are around a 3 or maybe even a 4 at skating considering you are only in year two. Can you skate backwards? Kind of, but Bob who is also in his 40s is much better at skating backwards. So compared to Bob, you are actually more like a 2 at skating (never mind that Bob has a private skating coach). Then again, Sydney Crosby is infinitely better than both you and Bob at skating and all things hockey. I’m not even sure any member of your team will ever catch up considering you’re all in your 40s and Sydney is in his 30s. So perhaps I should just say you are failing and give you all 1s on your report card. It’s unlikely you’ll ever make it to the NHL so it’s best for your sake that you know that now.
On the other hand, overall, you are one of the most well-liked players for your great sense of humour, for keeping the team’s morale up and for your willingness to play any position that’s needed that week. You are learning to think-outside-of-the-box when you play because you have played so many different positions. You also happen to have the highest number of assists. However, you have had no goals this season and you still fall a lot when you skate backwards. Frank is a bit of a puck-hog and will only play centre position but he does score at least one goal every game. Are you less of a hockey player than Frank? So do we now, instead of an overall number, break down the categories of skills based on some hypothetical perfect hockey player? Do we then fail you on goal scoring but bump you up for assists? And how will all those categories and numbers relate to each other as a whole functioning hockey player in the future? It’s starting to get complicated considering you are just in your second year of learning the game!
Enough of the hockey metaphor but I do want to add that the complexity of report cards is only amplified with the rollercoaster of emotions that 2020 has brought us all. The fact that this process of formally communicating student achievement to parents and future teachers holds the potential to impact our learners in very significant ways is not lost on us.
Having discussed the reason for narratives versus ‘scorecard’ reports, you will notice that we do have our own system to satisfy those who still feel more comfortable with a bit of insight into the level of support we provide your child in relation to other children in the class or school. You will also notice that your child’s Reader level is indicated on the last page of the report card. We can provide this because Reader levels for each student have been determined by your teacher and our learning support team through a variety of different in-school assessments and standardized tools. A “typical” Kindergarten student will only be experimenting with emergent reading or A readers in the first term but will likely progress to a B or even C level by the start of grade 1. Ideally students will progress through at least one or two levels each year from there (keeping in mind that moving up a level requires both fluency and comprehension). However, this is a general guideline based on very general North American standards. Do remember that where a student begins each year is less of an indicator of long-term success than how they develop confidence and a love for reading and learning.
We hope you find value in the thoughtful and reflective effort our teachers have put into our report cards this term as we all care deeply about each student’s learning and potential. We look forward to your feedback on how we can improve our communications in the New Year.
Have a wonderful Christmas, Chanukah, Winter Solstice and/or break and we look forward to seeing all of you again in 2021!