Earlier this week, we opened the most impressive report card, and no this blog post isn’t about a straight A student and how we were wowed by glowing grades. It’s actually about the efforts of the teachers, advisors, coaches, and Headmaster who all took time to reflect and write a very personalized report card.
At a time when the media bemoans the lack of meaningful student feedback, this report card was refreshing.
Creating and delivering a world-class education is a tall order. Yes, there are many approaches to educating our youth today; but regardless of the approach, effective feedback is an essential element to successfully teaching and evaluating our children.
We selected King’s-Edgehill School for their quality education and well-rounded programming. When we made our choice I was unaware of their approach to student evaluation and feedback. But with every report card I open and each parent-teacher conference I attend, I am so grateful for the depth and breadth of student evaluation offered at KES.
Throughout the year we will receive seven report cards. The first report card arrives just one month into the school year. This report is simple, communicating effort grades, but I love the spirit in which it is presented. The headmaster’s message about the report card states,
“Research has shown that generally students perform better over the long term if we focus on the effort they put into their studies rather than on the achievement grade. The conclusions being that children may coast and relax a bit when they receive good marks, or be de-motivated when they receive poor grades. Over time, by focusing on effort we are likely to see greater attempts to achieve.”
The midterm and end of term report cards are much more in-depth and capture effort and numeric grades, as you’d expect. What’s unexpected, but deeply appreciated, are the personalized comments on my children’s behavior, attitude, and conduct inside and outside the classroom. In addition to personalized comments from each classroom teacher, the report card also includes comments from the coaches, the head of the junior or senior school, the academic advisor and the headmaster.
As a parent, of course I want to know whether my child is reaching academic outcomes, and that is clearly communicated. Each teacher takes the time to get personal, too, offering praise when appropriate, but also why marks were missed, solutions for struggles and the “low hanging fruit” that can inch those marks higher. I also get to hear about how my kids are doing when it comes to giving back to the community around them and how eager they are to take advantage of the many opportunities presented to them in the classroom, on the sports field, and in the community. This gives me a full picture of my children at school: academically, emotionally, socially and as participants in a greater community.
The school also presents many opportunities for all students to be recognized for their academic efforts and accomplishments. The Headmaster’s Honours Roll posted in the school hallway is based on students’ effort grades (recall the strong focus on effort highlighted earlier). This means any student who gives their best effort in class can reasonably expect to make the honour roll. Alongside the honour roll you’ll also find some impressive numbers capturing the highest average by grade. My children find this inspirational, motivating, and often a cause to celebrate their own and their friends’ hard work.
In addition to seven report cards a year, there are three parent teacher conferences scheduled. These are usually scheduled on the Sunday evening before or after a break, so parents of boarding students can easily schedule these meetings at pick up or drop off. I personally like that these conferences don’t cut into my work day, and that I can take the time I need to meet with each teacher.
If I could give the teachers who craft these report cards marks for their effort and willingness to provide honest, candid, and truly helpful comments about my children’s efforts, I’d give them straight A’s.
Melanie Taljaard, Parent