Monday, December 09, 2013

What is the purpose of a report card?

Our foster boy who is in Kindergarten got his report card in the new Common Core format. What a ridiculous document! And what a terrible burden it puts on the teacher to track these idiotic "standards."

In most of these bizarre categories, the child is evaluated on "group participation."

For example,

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
Participates in group reading activit
ies with purpose and understanding by using prior knowledge and making predictions"

Here's another one:
"Participate in a variety of collaborative discussions, recounts key events, and ask and answer questions."

Kind of creepy. "Group Think" is the new standard of excellence in Kindergarten.  Why would I care how well a child reads in a "group activity?"  Isn't reading kind of a individual sort of activity?  Collaborative discussion is not my top priority for a Kindergartener. 

What is worse, the report card was mostly inaccurate about the boy's academic abilities.

For example,

Reading Standards: Foundation Skills
Phonological Awareness: Demonstrates understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds.

In this category, he got a 2 which stands for Basic - Making adequate progress toward end of year grade level standards.

First of all, what in the heck does that really mean? He is basic doing what exactly?

Second, the kid reads fluently, easily on a 3rd grade level. Does the teacher really not notice that this kid can read and that he can sound out almost every thing he reads?  I'm guessing that they gave all the students - Basic on the report card except maybe the obviously struggling students.

This same kid got a 2 (Basic - Making adequate progress toward end of year grade level standards) in Math for Count to tell the number of objects to 20.   He can count to 100 plus easily.

So, if the report card doesn't really report accurately what the child is doing academically, then what is the purpose of a report card?   Whom does it benefit?  

A friend explained to me (that her child's teacher explained to her) that the students would be given 2's so that the report card could show improvement by the end of the year.  I do see the teacher's dilemma.  If the child is proficient on the end of year academic goal at the beginning of the year, then it is tough to explain why the child should bother to attend the class at all.

As a homeschooler, I don't have much experience with report cards.  I did create a transcript with grades for my older girls so that they could apply to community college.  I called the transcript my little "creative writing project."    I assigned grades based on how well I thought the child had mastered the material with no actual hard data.  I gave A's, A-, B+, B, B- based on "feelings."  

The grades of C and below don't exist for us because no kid of mine is done working on a subject until she has mastered it, no matter how long it takes, which is why a daughter was still finishing up the Algebra 1 book at the beginning of the 11th grade.  [Interestingly, this same child scored well enough in math on the ACT test to meet the admissions requirements of the universities of her choice.]

Even though we didn't have grades in our homeschool work, my daughters have gotten very, very good grades in their college classes, so the absence of grades in their early years didn't hurt them any.

1 comment:

Fatcat said...

LoL on the creative writing project. I did something similar for my son and he's doing an excellent job in his second year of college. :-)