BY KYLEEN GRAY
With the arrival of June, inevitable report card season looms for students, teachers and parents. There are four key components parents and guardians need to pay attention to that should all be weighed equally when judging a student’s performance throughout the school year.
There is a significant and direct correlation between student attendance and academic achievement. If students are missing more than five days a semester, it will inevitably impact their achievement in school — especially if they aren’t catching up on missed work. These missed days still need to be taken into consideration when looking at a student’s overall achievement for the school year.
In Ontario, students receive learning skill evaluations (N = needs improvement; S = satisfactory; G= good; E = excellent) that align with student success: responsibility, organization, independent work, collaborative work, initiative and self-regulation.
Like student grades, these learning skills are tracked by teachers throughout the school year and reflect a great deal of information about student learning. Reading student grades through the lens of learning skills is important in rendering a clear picture of student learning.
What teachers cannot communicate via letter/numeric grades and learning skill evaluations, they try to encapsulate in their comments. Unfortunately, in recent years teachers have been prescribed the comment format for their students (positive, negative, next step) by the Ministry of Education, so generating a personalized message can be challenging.
Nevertheless, in the comment section, the last couple of sentences should be the focus of reading — they will often explain what the student needs to work on to improve or advance their learning over the summer months.
Although often deemed the most important part of the report card, in actuality letter (or numeric grades in secondary school) are only part of the big picture of student learning. Since the Ministry of Education has now banned elementary teachers from reporting modified grade achievements as well as giving elementary students failing grades, in reality sometimes they aren’t at all reflective of the student’s actual achievement.
Once students enter secondary school, numeric grades become more reflective of actual student learning since there are fewer social safety nets and students can fail courses.