Thursday, November 29, 2012

Changing Our Value System in Schools

I have been discussing with other educators in my district the idea of developing a new report card.  Influenced by several books I have read recently such as How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character and Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, I have started to reflect on how we underplay the importance of crucial non-cognitive skills. Specifically, I think that report cards fail to provide meaningful data on how a learner is growing.  At the high school level, report cards are driven by a letter grade which may or may not be accompanied by a short statement (think: poor quiz grade, participates in class, missing assignments).  Does this type of formal reporting tell us how students are growing as readers, writers and thinkers?  In what ways is a student growing into becoming a global citizen and fostering a greater sense of empathy?  Overall, how are the skills privileged in today's world represented in artifacts we share with students and parents?

With this in mind, I wonder whether the following idea has merit.  Several years ago the following document was created.  The idea was to create a document detailing our hopes for graduates. At the end of four years, students walking off the graduation stage would embody qualities expressed in what became The Graduate Profile.  If this is where our hopes reside why not construct a report system that directly comments on growth towards becoming a productive citizen?  If we want our students to develop marketable skills and knowledge why not develop a system that measures and comments on movement towards these ideals?

It seems that students and parents would get as much maybe even more out of commentary related to whether a student, "invokes empathy, ethics, and flexibility in personal relationships," or strives towards becoming a "critical thinker and problem solver, fluent in many literacies, who actively seeks out the truth and analyze facts and data to solve problems and make decisions."  Developing a system bringing  fidelity to these skills and dispositions has an enduring qualities that extend far beyond school.

Not sure where this is going to go, but certainly worth investigating.  Hopefully, it will lead to a re-envisioning of how we communicate growth.