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Assessment, Grades, and Conferences

By now all parents should have received their daughter’s report on effort and learning, otherwise known as the report card. This end-of-quarter assessment gives students and parents a quick glimpse of the year’s progress. The first quarter’s report card details curriculum goals for the year ahead whereas the next three quarters will outline how those goals are being met and whether new objectives are needed.

Educators have a love-hate relationship with the numbers, letters, and percentages that make up “grades”. Often feedback seems outdated by the time the report card is distributed. A student may have progressed beyond that 2 or has had a surge of newfound responsibility that could raise the number report for work habits on the checklists. However, most agree that it is helpful for teachers to communicate marks that clearly indicate either progress or room for growth at designated times during the year. This can inspire motivation or at least conversation.

One downside to grades as part of the feedback process is that it can reward product over process. Often grades are based on a calculate average of tests, quizzes, and projects. The product at the end of a unit was assessed and feedback along the way may have been minimal. A child can see themselves as a poor performer in a subject area and give up rather than see this more positively on a continuum of learning that requires constant effort. No matter how much we discourage this fixed mindset thinking, students often compare grades and rank themselves against their peers. Discuss with your child how important it is to always try your best and failure or setbacks are an important part of the learning process. Learning can look different for each individual and may not always mirror the progress of friends or classmates. At Roland Park Country School, we are looking at ways to reward effort, encourage process over product, and assess girls in new, more comprehensive ways. Hopefully we will be able to encourage growth mindset for our girls in all subject areas. Please enjoy the article below about this topic for parents.

Parent Article – includes a section about Children and Learning

An Interesting Read about New Ways of Assessment on the Horizon

This past week parents were invited to school for parent-teacher conferences. It was wonderful to see so many parents coming and going.  During this first conference, we learned about how your daughters see school, see friendships, and see themselves as students. Our hope as teachers is that when parents come to school in early November, we are able to establish a relationship that lasts throughout the school year. “Knowing” your children requires “knowing” you as well. Hopefully, the stage is set for a successful school year!

 

A parent requested a meeting the other week just to talk about some questions she had about school procedures. It was so nice to be able to hear her perspective on new things we were trying out and hear first-hand how the school experience was working, or not working, for her daughter. It was a dialogue we appreciate and encourage between parents and administration. As I talk with parents, I am reminded that we are all working for the same important goals- knowing our children and helping them have the most meaningful school experience possible.

I hope that my communication with you each week encourages “talking points” to inspire conversation with your daughter or daughters. Here are some “talking points” based on recent school events.

  • If your are in Kindergarten- What sound does the letter “i” make? How did you recreate your igloo picture?
  • If you are in First Grade- What continents and oceans can you identify?
  • If you are in Second Grade-
  • If you are in Third Grade- Did you learn new things about celebrations around the world from your classmates during their presentation?

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  • If you are in Fourth Grade- What  animal did you draw at the SPCA on your field trip recently?
  • If you are in Fifth Grade- What questions did you think of to ask the visitors to next week’s Morning Meeting?

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