then teaching’s a dangerous profession for you.
Thus, I want to revisit the school report cards issue.
I posted rather quickly upon their release that I liked the ideas of a growth model and of peer group comparisons – and I still do. Because schools should, for fairness’ sake, be compared to similar schools (though also to everyone, at least on an informational level if perhaps not on an evaluative level, because we should all aspire to provide a world class education and world-class achievement for our students regardless of their backgrounds). And because it’s my job, as a teacher, to make sure my students grow at least one grade level each year that I spend with them. Of course, not every kid grows exactly one year academically in every school year – but I do think it’s something to shoot for. At least to have the kids who gain a year outweigh the kids who slide. Wouldn’t you want that for your own kid?
But after reading (belatedly, thanks to the end of the marking period & the holidays) Eduwonkette‘s analysis (primarily), I have to say that while I still support these IDEAS, they do not seem to have been implemented well in this case. And they are just two among other problems that have been pointed out as people with more time available took a close look at the report cards. There are serious questions about the comparability of one year’s test to another, for example, which call into question the accuracy of so-called growth measurements. Oof-yahhh, as they say in Turkey.
Narrative approaches do seem more useful in describing and evaluating schools.
Tangentially: I know someone who works at a school where they do not grade students, but provide narratives for each student they teach. Class sizes are a lot smaller, it being a private school, but it still amounts to a ton of work for the teacher. But it pushes him: he has to get to know each of his kids, as a person and as a student. He has to keep notes and observations throughout the term for each child, to help provide evidence and jog his memory when he sits down to write. There can’t be any of those kids who don’t stand out in any particular way – he has to know them all. Would you want to provide evaluations of this sort in lieu of grades (assuming smaller class sizes necessary to make this possible)? Why or why not? If you’re a parent or have thought about parenting – would you prefer your child to get traditional grades, a mix of narrative and numbers, or all narrative?