Assessment vs. Evaluation

The latest round of report cards has me in an evaluative mood: does that format work, especially in primary/junior? Yes, it’s one piece of the larger feedback puzzle, but is the 20+ hours of work a) appreciated/understood by students and parents b) accurate when student ahas and goals change daily?

Maybe it’s time to focus on feedback over evaluation.  While reports frame goals for learners, is it too little too late? A recent conversation with parents who are friends of mine expressed dismay that they feel uneducated in the way math is currently taught.  So how are they expected to respond to report cards that discuss math success in coded language and no visual examples?  It’s feedback that doesn’t work.

How about this: monthly learning goals sent home each month with key tasks self-assessed by students on single point rubrics that scaffold their learning expectations.  These rubrics then have teacher feedback added and go home bi-weekly in a work folder for parent signatures.  The tasks are attached so kids can explain their learning to their parents and parents will therefore not find the feedback untimely nor obtuse.

A feedback, goal-focussed approach like this can make report cards unnecessary.  Periodical self-evaluation of learning skills can be sent home every few months as well.  Student voice would be honoured in this feedback cycle and the teacher would be able to use rubrics over the course of the year to ‘evaluate’ successful completion/mastery of the big ideas in our curriculum.

It just seems, as hard as I try, that report cards don’t tell the story I’d like to tell.  There’s got to be a better way.