Teachers need to find ways to communicate what students know and can do in parent-friendly language. Few parents have the time or the inclination to read excessively long documents, nor do they typically understand the educational language that is used in written curriculum. Parents want to know what their child has achieved, and what the next steps are in furthering their learning.
Helping Parents Understand Performance Standards
Exemplars of student work at various performance levels are an effective way to share standards with parents. Sharing their child’s work alongside exemplars helps them to see their own child’s strengths and areas for improvement.
Providing a Meaningful Summary of What Students Know and Can Do
A single mark cannot provide sufficient information about what a student knows and can demonstrate relative to curriculum outcomes. Comments with respect to what the child does well and where additional support may be required provide a more comprehensive picture.
Collecting Consistent Evidence about Student Behavior
Teachers often feel the need to report on other facets of the student as a learner, such as work habits and behavior. Since judgements made with respect to these areas may be somewhat subjective, it is critical to carefully consider the most effective way to communicate this information to parents.
Teachers need to have consistent mechanisms and processes to collect information about student behavior. Students need to be aware of how this information is being collected, and the consequences associated with inappropriate behavior. Concrete evidence must be available to support the judgements that have been made.
Teachers need to be cognizant that report cards are legal documents that may have long lasting impact. It is worth considering that reporting on behavioral issues might be more effectively done through face-to-face conferences with parents rather than through written comments on the report card.
Bryan discusses benefits and limitations of including student behavior on the report card.