Monday, December 10, 2007

What's a report card, really?

The longer I educate my children, the less I keep records. Heck, the less I give ANY sorts of grades.

Why are there report cards? Why are there grades? They are wonderful ways for teachers to track the progress of dozens (sometimes hundreds) of students. Grades help the students and their parents see a little snapshot of their work and progress.

Well, der! I'm sitting right here! How are they progressing? I can tell you in explicit detail. I can reinforce a concept through a learning opportunity at 7:00 pm on a Thursday night in November, when I know they did not grasp it at 8:30 am on a Monday in September. They don't need to know that they got a 92 on a paper, but they flourish when they bring their knowledge into actual life - in a living, breathing, very organic way.

I am also very blessed to be living in one of the greatest homeschooling states - Oklahoma. I started home education in Texas - another super fab place for homeschoolers. You can click here to find out specific laws and requirements where you live.

As the kids start entering high school, we will certainly be keeping records in preparation for college. For now, though, it can be an added waste.

How do the unschoolers and more grade-free approaches handle this where states require records? I wish I could say that I think about this more, but I am spoiled over here in homeschool heaven. Any links or articles that address this subject?

(photo by Hannah Boettcher - stock.xchng)


Cammie said...

It's interesting that you would post about this. I have this discussion with my husband all the time. He continually wants to know 'what grade he made'. My response is always, 'I don't know'. We had the discussion about what report cards and grades are for...for teachers to tell parents how their child is fairing in school...I told him that I am the parent and I know how he did on said assignment...he missed 2 of 20 (or whatever), he got stuck in the multiplication part of long division, he didn't know how to pronounce that long word in his reading book, etc. Anyway, I think he finally trusts my judgment. I do keep all work...why? to appease dad and anyone else who might ask!

Heather said...

Oh boy Cammie. Must be a hubby thing. My hubby is always asking about grades too! We live in Iowa -another terrific state for homeschoolers, although I've now approached the highschool level classes with my 13 year old son. So, now I HAVE to keep grades. I can't begin to tell you how much I despise paperwork! There is a great software program called: Homeschool Tracker that I would highly recommend though for anyone searching out record keeping of grades. In Iowa we need to either use a certified teacher to oversee progress, use a homeschool assistance program through our school district, test using ITBS or Stanford Testing methods, or keep a portfolio of grades to have a certified teacher, provided by the local school district, oversee. We've gone it several ways, but currently use ITBS testing, which seems the least invasive of our homeschool life and the best fit for us.

Heather said...

We basically unschool in one of the strictest states in the country--PA. I teach under our home tutor law--which gives me much more freedom due to my teachers degree. Unlike most of my friends I don't have to turn in testing and a huge portfolio each year, I do however have to be ready should someone question the education my children are receiving. My kids do occasional paper work as evidence of what they are learning and I take lots and lots of pictures. Also, I keep almost everything they make that could be used as evidence of their learning. Finally I write on my blog about our days, as a reminder to myself and to those who read that yes, these kids ARE learning.

jugglingpaynes said...

I use the written narrative option here in NY. For my older two, I do testing for the end of year assessment. In grades 1-3 I just had a certified teacher look at their work and sign off that I am doing my job. Luckily, I know many friendly certified teachers. I find grades incredibly subjective, and I was a high achiever in my own school days. I want my kids to learn for the love of learning, not to get good grades and then forget everything.