No Report Cards, Now What?!?! by Jodie Schnurr

red_apple_310438For elementary and secondary school students, the end of this school year will have one key difference from that of others; the lack of report cards. Up until the normal date for the release of those, students and families have likely noticed very little difference in the day to day functionality of the school year as a result of labour disruption. End of year celebrations have continued, events and activities have taken place, and field trips have gone forward as planned. Student needs have been met.

The expectation of teachers is that grades have been reported for every student. What will happen with those grades varies according to whether or not a student is in an elementary or secondary school, and varies by board. For many elementary students, a letter of promotion will replace the formal report card. For secondary students, grades will be entered by school administration and report cards generated without comments or learning skills. This will be done in time for the process of uploading marks for college and university applicants.

The challenge at this time is in making sense of this change at home and navigating the reporting process with your children. There are a few suggestions that can minimize the stress and focus on productive conversations at home so that moving into the excitement of the summer months is not tainted with a negative feeling about school or school staff. Final grades should not be a mystery, but an affirmation of the communication that has been happening all year.

On an ongoing basis, teachers make use of many forms of relevant and informative feedback to help students learn and make progress. Having your son or daughter reflect on these conversations with their teacher will help them make sense of either a letter of promotion or a letter grade. Students in elementary school are encouraged to take an active role in the parent interview process. They can use this final promotion feedback as an opportunity to continue that reflective process.

Secondary students will have received a midterm report card and are likely to have a good idea of their demonstration of key learnings in the second half of the semester. Exams and summative tasks are worth 30% of the final mark in secondary courses and many students will take the opportunity to attend exam return day which will provide clarity around their achievement. Teachers typically provide a good deal of feedback on summative tasks, much of which would be a good indication of the anecdotal information that would be included in report card comments. There is much to be learned from the exam and summative feedback and students should be encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to speak to their teachers about their results.

In summary, labour disruption is temporary. Family relationships with teachers and perceptions of school are lasting. If being supportive of a collaborative relationship with teachers is the long term goal, then it is important to put this event in a context that makes it as positive as possible. Stick to the facts, use the difference as an opportunity to encourage reflection, and avoid personalizing the issue. Children will take their cues from their parents and guardians, and there are some adult issues of a political nature that they may be too young to understand. Remaining positive during this period will result in a much calmer and less conflicted start to the next school year which is the goal for parents, students, and educators.