A Sample Ontario Mid-Term Progress Report (CBC)
The first skirmish is underway now in Ontario. “Education Premier” McGuinty has promised “clear, understandable reports” written ” in plain English.” Close educational observers remain skeptical. In introducing the new Progress Report on CBC-TV’s The National, a Toronto Board consultant offered a bizarre comment straight from the Hall-Dennis school of “romantic progressivism.” When asked why grades had been eliminated, she contended that “bad marks’ lowered a pupil’s “self-esteem.” Yes, woolly-headed OISE thinking still lives in some boards.
The public debate in Ontario is now focusing on the relationship between report cards and public accountability for better student results. MCguinty and his EDucation Minister are defending the new Progress Report and insisting that the new system provides more emphasis on learning skills and work habits, assessing students on their organization, independent work, collaboration and initiative.
Opposition Leader Tim Hudak (PC) has staked out his ground. Last week, Hudak went on record claiming that an Ontario Conservative government would put the grades back in fall report cards. “These are really no longer report cards. They’re simply vague progress reports that are not giving parents the information they need about their children’s success,” Hudak said Wednesday. “Basically, Dalton McGuinty is now experimenting with report cards and taking away the grades and the comments that help parents make important choices about their children.” He also said parents shouldn’t have to wait until late January or February to know precisely how their children are scoring in individual subjects.
Standardized Student Report Cards invariably become a battleground in the ongoing debate over the real purposes of teaching and learning in our public schools. Just when education reformers think that the “romantic progressives” are in retreat, they come up with new ways of ‘socializing” today’s students in pursuit of what Kathleen Gow aptly termed the “God of self-esteem” Most teachers, and certainly parents, want an earlier assessment to ward off potential problems. It’s all about whether those assessments actually provide a measure of student achievement or simply serve as convenient tools of social promotion.
Where do you stand on the contentious question of Student Report Cards? Should Ontario put grades back into its fall mid-term reports? How can parents secure Report Cards that actually provide meaningful, individualized student appraisals? Is there something about Standardized Report Cards that smacks of bureaucratic convenience rather than meaningful authentic assessment? It’s high time for a national conversation about this fundamental educational issue.