Why Is It About The Marks?

The first term of school is now over. My report cards have all been written and this week we will have parent-teacher interviews. I like the procedure my school has for handing out report cards. I haven’t seen another school do it quite this way, and I must say that I really think this is the most effective way to do it.

At my current school we do not give the report card to the student to take home. I am glad that we don’t either. In my previous schools, that is exactly what we did. The pressure on the kids was enormous. I always addressed the class and let it be known that the marks are very personal. I told them to not open the envelopes until they got home and that they did not need to tell anyone what their marks were if they didn’t want to.

Of course, as soon as the kids got out of my class, they opened the envelopes and the comparisons would start. Everyone wanted to know what everyone else got. Feelings got hurt this way.

I wish school wasn’t about the marks. I actually hate writing report cards. It is a difficult procedure due to the standardization of reporting. I need to level the child’s work based on what an appropriate response looks like for this age of child. I have models to follow and need to compare the work the students have produced over the term to examples that the provincial government provides. This one-size-fits-all education forces me to give children marks that aren’t really reflective of the work they have done.

I have some students that aren’t at grade level. They try hard and do good work but I am forced to give them bad marks because they don’t measure up to the provincial standard. I really don’t like to do that but I have to. Unfortunately, some of the students may never reach appropriate grade level standards. They will continue to have poor report cards their entire student career. It is sad.

Some of my students deserve better marks and report cards than they will be receiving. I expect a lot as a teacher. I push every one of my students to achieve his or her personal best. I wish I could measure their progress against their personal best. That is something that is definable and measurable.

My school does handle report cards in a very professional and responsible way. We schedule a parent-teacher interview for every child in the school. We organize it so that the parent can move from class to class and visit all of children’s teachers in one short visit to the school. The interviews are twenty minutes long and that is when we hand out the report cards.

I like that I get to meet all the parents and not just the ones who want to discuss the report card after the fact. I like that I get to show them the classroom and explain our routines and procedures. I try to get them involved as much as I can in their child’s education. It’s a small thing but it makes all the difference in the world.