Primary Report Card FAQ
What report card format creates the least workload for teachers?
There is no simple answer to this question. Doing report cards is a significant workload issue for teachers. Part of the solution to the workload problem may be in the format of the report cards. However, if it were all there, teachers in some school or district would have come up with a format by now that was widely recognized as solving the workload problem. Part of the problem is the expectations teachers tend to put on themselves. Many teachers advocate for report card formats that require them to do more work than is required by ministry policy. The reasons for doing these extras may be philosophically sound, but the additional time and thought put into reporting as a result needs to be weighed against the time and thought teachers could put into planning for classroom instruction and assessment for learning. Because report cards have formats and deadlines, there is a tendency for them to grow in importance out of proportion to their relatively small role in the whole process of learning.
Do teachers have to use learning outcomes on the report card?
No, there is nothing in the new Ministerial Order on reporting that requires that learning outcomes appear on report cards.
As in the past, teacher evaluation of student progress must be in relation to the learning outcomes in the curriculum unless the student is on an IEP. However, the learning outcomes do not have to be on the report card, or reported on one by one.
The misconception arises because some report card software and some report card examples published by the ministry have included learning outcomes.
The ministry’s first draft of a standardized provincial report card for Primary included a drop down menu of learning outcomes. However, the ministry has since abandoned its plans to have standardized provincial report cards, and the Ministerial Order which sets provincial policy on report cards makes no mention of including learning outcomes on report cards.
The Report Writer Software, and the optional ministry template modeled on that software, has a “checklist” of outcomes, evaluated one by one, under the headings Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science, etc. This is acceptable to the ministry but is in addition to the requirement to evaluate students’ overall progress in Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science, etc. In other words, if districts choose this model for their local report cards, teachers will be doing more work than required by ministry policy.
If a school district adopts a format with a menu of learning outcomes, teachers must still add written reporting comments. Written reporting comments must include what the student is able to do, the areas in which the student requires further attention or development, and ways of supporting the student’s learning. It could be argued that by evaluating the learning outcomes one by one, teachers have provided comments on what the student is able to do, and the areas in which the student requires further attention or development. However, teachers will still have to add comments on ways of supporting the student’s learning.
Do teachers have to report on student progress in relation to:
• the curriculum, or
• child development in relation to developmental norms for children that age, or
The answer is both.
Teachers must report on student progress in relation to subject areas. Depending on the subject area, this must be done on the report card using a performance scale and written comments, or written comments only.
In addition, parents of a primary student must be provided with oral or written comments on the student’s school progress with reference to the expected developments for students in a similar age range. The previous reporting policy also required this.
There is a wide range of development that is considered normal for children of a particular age. The majority of students therefore fall within the widely held expectations for development for their age. Teachers can reference the ministry’s Supporting Learning document for a description of the widely held developmental expectations for Primary students.
If this information is communicated to parents in a written form, it would likely appear on the report card. If this information is communicated orally, it would likely happen in a parent teacher interview.
Can teachers change the wording of the new performance scales?
No, the Ministerial Order defines the wording that must be used. In a similar way, another Ministerial Order defines which letter grades may be used on report cards. This wording cannot be changed to match the wording used in the BC Performance Standards or to other wording we might prefer.
The wording of the performance scale for Kindergarten is:
• Approaching expectations
• Meeting expectations
• Exceeding expectations
The wording of the performance scale for Grades 1 to 3 is:
• Not yet meeting expectations
• Approaching expectations
• Meeting expectations
• Exceeding expectations
Do teachers have to use the BC Performance Standards?
The requirement for the use of “performance scales” is widely, but erroneously, interpreted to mean that teachers are required to use the BC Performance Standards.
BC Performance Standards have not been developed for all subject areas and grade levels. In addition, the BC Performance Standards for Reading, Writing, Numeracy, and Social Responsibility are non-mandatory resources. It says this in the preamble of each document. Teachers have individual professional autonomy about whether or not to use these resources in their classrooms.
Teachers must use the broad performance scales outlined in the Ministerial Order. Whether or not a teacher uses the BC Performance Standards to inform their judgment is a matter of individual professional autonomy.
Do teachers have to develop rubrics for each subject area in order to determine where students are on each performance scale?
No. The performance scale is defined in the Ministerial Order as simply the phrases “not yet meeting expectations”, “approaching expectations”, “meeting expectations”, and “exceeding expectations”. Although some of the ministry’s optional templates define these terms further, these further descriptions are not part of the Ministerial Order and do not have to appear on the report card. It is therefore up to individual teachers to decide what constitutes meeting expectations in relation to the learning outcomes. While teachers have professional autonomy in these judgments, they should be able to defend their professional judgments.
Can teachers still do anecdotal reports? If so, what headings can be used?
The new policy still allows for fully anecdotal reports. In subject areas in which student progress must be communicated using a performance scale (not yet meeting expectations, approaching expectations, meeting expectations, exceeding expectations), the performance scale can be communicated in words. It is not necessary to use a graphic.
The headings chosen could be the subject area headings or could be the goal areas of the Primary Program.
Under each heading, the first sentence or point under each could deal with the performance scale. For example, if the heading is “Reading”, the first sentence could be; “Matthew is meeting expectations in reading.” If the heading is “Intellectual Development”, the first sentence could be; “Matthew is meeting expectations in all areas”, or “Matthew is meeting expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, science, and social studies, and is approaching expectations in mathematics.” The sentences or points that follow should address what the student is able to do, the areas in which the student requires further attention, and ways of supporting the student’s learning development. Alternatively, the sentence or point about the performance scale could be after the other comments.
The BCTF has confirmed with the ministry that it is acceptable to make a global comment about the performance scale; e.g., “Matthew is meeting expectations in all subject areas” rather than repeating it over and over. This may be especially useful in situations in which a student is not yet meeting expectations in several areas; e.g., “Anna is not yet meeting expectations in language arts and mathematics.”
It is up to individual teachers to decide what constitutes meeting expectations in relation to the learning outcomes.
How can teachers report on beginning ESL students or students with special needs who have IEPs using the performance scale?
Until an ESL student is able to demonstrate her or his learning in relation to the expected learning outcomes set out in the curriculum for the course or subject and grade, the student’s report card contains written reporting comments only.
Unless a student with special needs who has an IEP is able to demonstrate her or his learning in relation to the expected learning outcomes set out in the curriculum for the course or subject and grade, the student’s report card will contain written reporting comments only. The written comments must address the student’s progress in relation to the expected outcomes set out in the student’s IEP.
In both cases, written reporting comments must include what the student is able to do, the areas in which the student requires further attention or development, and ways of supporting her or his learning.
Where appropriate, a report card for a student on an IEP may also include comments describing ways to enable the student to demonstrate her or his learning in relation to the expected learning outcomes in the curriculum for the course and grade, and the time frame required to enable that. This is clearly more applicable to high incidence or “grey area” students who are considered to be “behind” in school and can “catch up” if there is sufficient intervention, than to low incidence special needs students.
Do teachers have to include previews or overviews with report cards?
No, there is no provincial requirement to include previews or overviews with report cards. Including such material goes well beyond the purpose of report cards and tends to add to teacher workload. If teachers want to send home previews or overviews, they should consider doing so at the beginning of a term rather than at report card time. This timing increases the usefulness of the previews/overviews for parents, decreases teacher workload at report card time, and keeps the report card focussed on reporting student progress.
Do teachers have to do an introductory paragraph that is personalized for each child?
No, there is no provincial requirement to include a personalized introductory paragraph. Some teachers like to do a personalized introductory paragraph to show parents that they know each child as an individual and attend to each child’s individual learning needs. This is a good thing to do but the report card is not the only or even the best opportunity to do this. For example, parent-teacher or student-led conferences provide better opportunities. In addition, teachers can let how they do this in their day-to-day teaching stand on its own without trying to capture it in the report card as well.