Rethinking Report Cards-Conclusion

What forms will the pushback against alternative report cards likely take? Several. First, many middle aged and older people will argue “Traditional report cards worked just fine for us back in the day. My friends and I turned out okay.” Change is threatening. “Was my education incomplete/imperfect?”

Schools should be continually reinventing themselves to better meet the needs of students who must adapt to a rapidly changing world. Reformers should be mindful that propositions like mine will make many older people defensive, but they should not let that dynamic thwart them from making the necessary changes.

Second, the families of students who have been most successful within the traditional reporting system will protest. Good grades are way of maintaining one’s privilege in an intensely stratified society. Alternative report cards should be designed so that they can’t be easily co-opted by the academically privileged. Probably easier said than done.

Third, teachers will most likely protest the additional time that will be required to write individual report cards. Calculating grades take secondary teachers a long time, but these narrative report cards, if done thoroughly and thoughtfully, will take even longer. We need to attract teachers who embrace the additional time as a worthwhile trade-off for providing substantive information that makes teaching and learning much more meaningful. How to do that probably requires another series at another time.


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