Report card time
Around this time of year, parents expect their children to bring home interim reports followed weeks later by term-end report cards. Also, parents are accustomed to setting up parent/teacher interviews through the school office. But for now the Labour Relations Board has exempted teachers from participating in mandated parent/teacher interviews and from providing student marks and reports to the administration—with the exception of grade 12 students for the purposes of graduation, scholarships, and post-secondary applications. This means communication between teachers and parents will be carried out through alternate methods.
Although many parents and students place a high value on report cards, these are not essential to learning. In fact, teachers know that final marks have little to no effect on student progress. The mark is just a record of what is already known by students, teachers, and often parents. However, information from teachers can begin an improvement process. After receiving an unsatisfactory report, many students are motivated to improve. But just like the New Year’s resolutions of adults, these self-promises are difficult to maintain without help.
Determination to do better must be supported by a clear understanding of what specifically needs to be improved and which learning strategies are likely to work best. Meaningful teacher feedback on these is more effective in improving student learning than a report card mark. Also, students have the best chance for success when parents reinforce learning strategies at home. Fortunately, this kind of information will still be accessible for students and parents.
Although teachers will not be submitting marks to administration, they will be maintaining communication with parents about student progress. This may be during something as informal as a brief cloakroom conversation. Or a teacher might invite parents into the classroom to participate in special events. Many teachers will send home class newsletters, notes in student agendas, or tests and assignments to be reviewed and returned. Teachers may phone or email parents to share information or to set up an appointment. Some teachers may have a website or blog that students and parents can access. Others will engage students in self-reporting for parent feedback. Teachers will choose communication strategies depending on grade level, student need, and their own judgment. Parents are also welcome to contact teachers at school to discuss their child’s learning, or to set up a meeting at a time convenient for the teacher.
As teachers continue their struggle to improve conditions in public education through contract talks, parents will need to be flexible in how they seek the information they need to support their children’s progress. The important thing to remember is that learning is a process, not a percentage.
President, Fernie District Teachers’ Association