Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 14/14.5.2

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The Evolution of Progress by Diamond Burke

Learning Targets

A.) Students will learn what report cards are and how effective they are in measuring student progress

Our current accountability systems distort curriculum's by overemphasizing basic skills—not because we don't know any better, but because we want accountability on the cheap (Jacobsen, Rothstein, and Wilder).

In today’s society report cards are king, they are the main things we use to measure how well a student is

doing in a particular subject in a specific place in time. The first student progress reports, were introduced

in the late 1800s, and typically consisted of a list of basic skills and indicated which of those skills the

student had mastered and which required additional practice (Starr). Those were eventually replaced with the

very popular letter grading system in the 20th century.

Most parents think that letters grades are very objective and don’t accurately measure a students ability (Starr). Parents and teachers have different goals and different expectations about the reporting process.Teachers want

to measure the success of each and every child, they want to identify each student's strengths and

weaknesses and report on the progress that student is making toward achieving individual goals. However, a

parent’s idea of progress in terms of their children in measured in relation to how they are doing in

comparison to other children in the classroom (Starr). Many experts say that a report cards can and must

provide that information (Starr).

We have become so dependent on the A B C grading system that educators are finding it nearly impossible to

break away from it (Starr). Today report cards featuring things like skills' lists, letter grades, and teacher

narratives and can be found in schools across the country (Starr).

What we teach children in school is 2 + 2 = 4 and Paris is the capital of France. What we should be teaching them is what they are. We should be saying: "Do you know what you are You are a marvel. You are unique."

- Pablo Casals (Jacobsen, Rothstein, and Wilder).

More recently, scholars like John Goodlad (1979) concluded that public education should educate the whole

child and avoid re-teaching that may raise test scores but fail to produce healthy, fulfilled, and

participating citizens (Jacobsen, Rothstein, and Wilder). Moreover, a balanced assessment system should include

tests of critical thinking. Although measuring critical-thinking skills usually requires constructed responses

in which students produce original work, multiple-choice questions can also assess such skills.

Education is something that is constantly changing and now we live in a society where perhaps the progress

report is not as effective as it once was. As said by Horace Mann when reporting to the Massachusetts

legislature he denounced the phonics based approach (with "letters, taken separately . . . taught before

words") when teaching language, insisting that reading depends more on motivation than mechanics. He concluded

that "knowledge cannot be poured into a child's mind. The pupil. . .is nor a passive recipient, but an active,

voluntary agent" (Jacobsen, Rothstein, and Wilder). This explains why a kindergartner would know how to say a

word but would not know what the word meant, that system of teaching language is not a good way to measure

student progress. A report card needs to be more than just an assessment of how a student is doing or where

they stand, it needs to be a guide of where they need to be and what they need to do to get there. After all a

report card can only tell you so much about a student.


1.) The first progress tests where introduced in what century?

A. 19th

B. 20th

C. 17th

D. 18th

2.) Teachers and Board members have different goals and expectations about the reporting process. The two underlined words above are incorrect and have been stricken through. What are the correct words that complete the sentence?

A. Moms and Dads

B. Students and Teachers

C. Parents and Teachers

D. Administrators and Students

3.) There are thirty students in Mrs. Amber's English class.Over half the class has failed her last three tests and she has a reputation of being a hard teacher. In fact only about 30 of her students out of the 500 she has taught have ever passed her class. She sent home midway progress reports and twenty six out of her thirty students are receiving a D or F, she does not write any comments just the letter grade. Is this an accurate portrayl of the students' progress?

A. Yes, they should have been trying harder

B. Yes, they are responsible for their own grades

C. No, because the teacher is obviously doing something wrong, a teacher having that large a percentage of students failing is not a reflection of the student but of the teacher

D. No, it just isn't

4.) Mr. Johnson has taught at Elli Elementary School for the better part of four years all of his students have great things to say about him and he is one of the most popular teachers. Mr. Johnson dedicated himself to his work and spends a vast majoriy of his time giving each of his students effective feedback about their progress in his class, many of the other teachers have criticized him for his methods saying it's a waste of time to care so much , what do you think about how Mr.Johnson methods?

A. His individual attention to each student will help each child to get to the point they need to be at, he is helping each child meet their own individual goal instead of lumping them all into one category

B. He's crazy spending so much of his own time

C. Who cares bout his method

D. He's just trying to make himself look better by going out of his way

Answers 1.)B 2.)C 3.)C 4.) A


Jacobsen, Rothstein and Wilder.( May 2007)Balance in the Balance Educational Leadership 64(8) Retrieved March 20, 2008, from the EBSCO Host Database

Starr, Lind.(1998, 2006).Student Report Cards: Do They Earn an A -- or a "Needs Improvement?". Education World Retrieved March 20, 2008, from

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