Clear As Mud
23rd June 2016
Ah yes, school reports – teachers slave over them and parents spend hours trying to decipher them!
Things have changed since we went to school. A and B grades are not as easily attainable. It’s almost like C is the new A. C grades mean students have a sound knowledge and are competent. A’s are achieved only when students have extensive knowledge and can readily apply their understandings. So don’t be disappointed with a C grade; it means they’re on track.
So where do teachers pluck these grades from anyway? Believe me – they’re not assigned lightly. Teachers look at the student’s work samples, engage in dialogue with their colleagues, consider the student’s overall contribution to the topic and use their professional judgement.
Then, they consider the child’s performance against outcomes listed in the curriculum. They look at indicators; specific things the student should demonstrate to show mastery of that outcome.
Finally, teachers align their student work samples with the grades and samples set out by the Board Of Studies.
After ALL that, if your child meets the criteria, they’ll have earned a C. If they’re consistently achieving above and beyond, then they can expect a B or maybe an A.
Teachers do find this process challenging, but ultimately the report is a document to inform parents. So if you want to know more about your child’s report, make an appointment to see the teacher and check out the NSW Board of Studies Assessment website where you can find work samples that demonstrate each grade.
And just to clarify, students are graded across Stages not Year levels. Effort grades are not required, although many schools choose to include this as an extra. Oh, and Kindergarten students are graded as Working Above, Working At and Working Beyond Expectation.
Clear as mud? Yeah I thought so.
As a current primary school teacher and a parent of a primary age child, I find it incredibly confusing to know how my child is doing WITHIN the stage level. If 85% of the class are given “Cs”, that really isn’t telling me anything about how she is going within that 85%. Does that make sense? Is she on the top of those 85% or just barely making it? There would be a HUGE range of abilities within that 85% of kids that is just not accounted for the way the grading system is now. For all the immense work that goes into reports, I feel they don’t express much about the individual child.
Tara – I completely agree. Teachers feel that too. We give a C and think ‘it’s a strong C’ then give the next child a C and feel like that child is just on the cusp of a D. I suppose then we could do C+ and C- but I have a better idea and that is to do away with grades altogether. I know this doesn’t seem popular right now, but assessment is such a slippery thing at the best of times. Students who receive an A on a concept in Term 1 but only achieve a B or C if tested on the same concept in Term 3. So what are we really assessing? Memory? Recall? I think the conversation we have at report time should be about effort, progress, learning, achievement and areas that need development.