Report cards – What Do They Really Tell You?

Most of the communication between a school and parents revolves around report cards. Teachers put in a lot of effort to conduct exams, correct the papers, collate marks, assign grades and put together the report cards. Parents eagerly look forward to the report card, but looking at it, there often seem to be more questions than answers. So, do the report cards really tell them what they want to know?

Report cards don’t really tell you much.

What does the report card actually tell you? The short answer is, not much. The most noticeable thing about a traditional report card is how little information it conveys. A typical report card is a table of subjects, with multiple columns for marks and grades in a number of exams. But as all of us agree, marks in exams are only the beginning of the story.

What do parents actually want to know?

What do parent really want to know? That’s easy to answer. Just listen to the kind of questions that are asked in a typical parent-teacher meeting. The questions are mostly about the why and how of the performance indicated on the report card – what is my child doing in school? How well is she doing? Why is she not doing well in Math/Science/English? What exactly does she need to improve on? And how can I help her?

For anybody who has been in or around a parent-teacher meeting, it is very clear that almost every parent is trying to make sense of the report card and get some usable information from the discussion.

If they really want this information, why are they not getting it?

If these report cards convey such little information, why is it that schools, teachers and parents are still going on with them? Does everyone believe that marks give a complete picture of a student’s progress? Do the teachers know nothing about each student’s performance beyond the marks scored? All of us know this is not true.

There are actually a number of obstacles that stop everyone from changing over and creating reports that give the right information.

  • To start with, traditional assessments are often paper and pen tests and do not generate much meaningful information beyond marks
  • Teachers observe many nuances about a student’s learning but find it impossible to record and track these to create a meaningful picture of a student’s progress.

In this situation, marks become the predominant language for communication as that’s all that can be captured and reported using conventional systems. All other information is lost and we end up with a report card that is a collection of numbers.

An easy way to get informative and insightful reports

A lot of progressive schools have successfully overcome this challenge and started to deliver insightful reports to the parents. These schools capture different aspects of every student’s performance as reflected by paper and pen tests, participation in activities and other co-curricular activities and analyse this data to identify patterns and insights that can help students to better.

Contrary to expectation, this does not add to the teacher’s workload. Instead, the use of technology actually cuts down the effort involved. Many students and parents today get reports that tell them much more than the marks scored; reports that reveal the story behind the marks and provide specific actions to drive improvement. Its time you joined the club!

If you are interested in exploring how you can easily create meaningful reports at your school, please contact us.

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