EDITORIAL: Report card evolution

Paper report cards could become a thing of the past, and the current teachers’ job action is showing us how.

Paper report cards could become a thing of the past, and the current teachers’ job action is showing us how.

While many people still cling to the idea of children bringing home a piece of paper with grades and comments at the end of term, it may be time to take another look at this approach.

For generations, the industrial-style education system has been fixated on producing graduates like widgets, and report cards have mirrored this model with a simplistic analysis of students’ strengths and weaknesses. Admittedly, report cards have been upgraded over the years, with more comments and a reduced emphasis on grades at the primary level.

But what educators now know – and B.C.’s new personalized learning agenda aims to address – is that students have different learning styles and require assessments that are measurable, flexible, adaptable and motivating.

So far, the province has not done a good job defining personalized learning and conveying exactly what and how it will change B.C.’s education system – and under the current model of labour relations in education, it’s hard to know how this will be achieved.

Still, the teachers’ contract dispute has shown there are other ways to assess and report on student learning. Teachers are communicating with parents and students by email and telephone, posting information online, sending home records of individual assignments and outlining specific problems.

What’s more, parents are being encouraged to seek out information about their child’s learning. There may be some gaps if parents don’t know how or are unable to communicate with their child’s teacher. In those cases, it would be up to teachers to reach out.

There will always be a need for standardized assessment and recording, especially for those headed for university, but a piece of paper at the end of term is not a fully meaningful record of success for all students.

– Black Press