When You Write a Report Card, Explain the Grade

“When You Write a Report Card, Explain the Grade” is the title of an article by Adam Bryant based on an interview with corporate CEO, Laura Yecies.  You can also find this important piece on leadership effectiveness in a search of the New York Times.  In the K-12 profession “When You Write a Report Card, Explain the Grade” has profound meaning for our work.  How long have we now struggled with grading-scales, whether a grade of “D” is valid, and even the ubiquitous “standards-based report cards”?  All of these have merit and should be explored and developed.  Trouble is, we often miss the most important parts and highest and best uses of Report Cards.
1.  What students and parents need are deep understanding behind a teacher assigned grade, rating, or performance comment.  No type of symbolism or grading system can replace conferencing and dialogue.
2.  Grade and Report Cards are more than rewards and consequences for students.  Even if there are family-decided rewards and consequences for a child’s performance at school, when changes are needed, and even in the case of stellar (A+) performance, there must be provided a “where do we go from here” tutorial from teachers to parents and students.
3.  Developing student ownership of the past performance and future performance is of top-priority.  Those schools where student-led parent, teacher conferences and NWEA MAP academic target setting has captured the full involvement of students develops the student-ownership we most need.
For those who say business can’t do much to teach us about accelerating our performance in K-12 schooling, think again after reading about Laura Yeckies and “When You Write a Report Card, Explain the Grade”.

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