Advocacy

Communicating With Parents More Than Just The Report Card

While report cards are one way that teachers report to parents, they cannot provide all the information that parents need about students’ ongoing learning. Teachers communicate information about students to parents in a number of other ways as well – conferences, telephone conversations, agenda books, and e-mail. These alternate forms of communication can provide additional rich information, and also allow for dialogue.

Report cards provide a legal written record that summarizes information that should have already been shared in other ways. There should be no surprises on the report card for either the parent or the student.

It should be noted that the School Act does not define the number of formal reporting periods required. Decisions as to what constitutes regular evaluation and periodic reporting are left to the discretion of the jurisdiction.

Helping Parents Understand the Relationship between Assessment for Learning and Assessment of Learning

For most parents, the concept of assessment for learning is not well understood. Parents may not have experienced these strategies as students themselves. As such, they may require support to understand the principles and practices associated with assessment for learning such as second chances, peer feedback, self-reflection, and so forth. It is critical to work with parents to enhance their understanding of why these research-based practices support enhanced student learning.

Video: Assessment for and of Learning (Bryan)

Assessment for and of Learning (Bryan)

Bryan shares how his jurisdiction accessed resources to help parents understand the difference between assessment for and of learning.

Video: Assessment for and of Learning (Colin)

Assessment for and of Learning (Colin)

Colin explains how a large jurisdiction relies on school based leadership to help parents understand the difference between assessment for and of learning.

Video: Modelling Assessment for Learning

Modelling Assessment for Learning

Linda describes the process used in her school to help parents understand the difference between assessment for and of learning.

Helping Parents Understand the Language Used to Communicate Learning

Teachers need to be cautious about using education jargon when communicating with parents. This does not necessarily mean oversimplifying what is communicated to parents, but rather ensuring that the message is straightforward and clear.

Video: How Parent/Teacher Conference Play a Role

How Parent/Teacher Conference Play a Role

Lois describes processes for helping parents understand the language of report cards.

Video: The Importance of Multi-lingual Support Documents

The Importance of Multi-lingual Support Documents

Bryan describes the development of support documents to help parents understand the language of report cards.

Video: Keeping it Simple

Keeping it Simple

Linda speaks to the need to keep the language simple and direct.

Ensuring that Parents Receive Ongoing Information

Student agendas, e-mails, phone calls and interviews are all effective mechanisms for sharing information with parents. At report card time parents should already know about areas where their child is experiencing success, and where additional support may be required.

Video: Providing Information

Providing Information

Bryan describes how teachers in his jurisdiction maintain ongoing communication with parents.

Video: The Value of Email

The Value of Email

Lois highlights the importance of e-mail in maintaining ongoing communication with parents.

Video: The Value of a Learning Log

The Value of a Learning Log

Colin describes how a weekly learning log can be a valuable method of communicating with parents.

Video: The Value of On-line Information

The Value of On-line Information

Janice talks about the benefits of parents having on-line access to their child's performance.

Video: The Child as a Learner

The Child as a Learner

Linda discusses how to ‘hook’ parents into knowing their child as a learner.

Timing of Formal Communication

Relying on current research, teachers now know that more formative and less summative assessment is in the best interests of student learning. According to Dylan Wiliam (2011), “…attention to minute-by-minute and day-to-day formative assessment is likely to have the biggest impact on student outcomes.”

Creating report cards is a time consuming exercise for teachers. With other effective communication structures in place, there may be an argument for fewer formal reporting periods. What is important, however, is that communication be ongoing and effective. In support of this, many schools have adopted the practice of conducting parent/student/teacher conferences prior to report cards being issued.

Video: Frequency of Reporting

Frequency of Reporting

Colin describes pros and cons of various reporting schedules.

Video: Value of Pre-report Card Conferences (Lois)

Value of Pre-report Card Conferences (Lois)

Lois speaks to the benefits of conferencing with parents prior to issuing the report card.

Video: Value of Pre-report Card Conferences (Janice)

Value of Pre-report Card Conferences (Janice)

Janice shares how a pre-report card conference leads to a focus on habits of mind rather than the mark.

Video: Setting Learning Goals

Setting Learning Goals

Bryan describes the September meeting with parents to set learning goals for the upcoming year.