Love, love, LOVE this honestly written Toronto Star commentary on report cards by a parent!!!
By: Catherine Porter Columnist, Published on Thu Feb 26 2015
If your kid was terribly scattered in class, would you want to know?
Or would you rather think he was “using planning skills with limited effectiveness.”
That’s how Ontario’s Ministry of Education suggests teachers write their report cards for kids getting D’s. They aren’t struggling, floundering, falling behind. They are “demonstrating limited understanding of content.”
I call this edu-speak. The ministry calls it a “positive tone.”
Watch out. I’m writing about the impenetrable language of report cards again. My last column triggered dozens of emails and phonecalls — many angry — from teachers.
“I don’t think anyone hates those report cards more than the teachers writing them,” emailed Debby Conderan, who retired eight years ago after 30 years teaching grades 3 to 8 in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. “They are edu-babble at its best. None of it says what a teacher really wants to say.”
The dozens of working teachers who emailed and phoned concurred. None of them wanted to be quoted by name, for fear of reprisals. But all said they resent labouring for days over reports which in the end, communicate little. Their hands are tied by three things: conflict-averse principals, school board policies and angry mother-hen parents.
They were furious that Ryan Bird, spokesperson for the Toronto District School Board, had said teachers are “encourage[d] to use language that parents will understand.”
Most teachers told me in no uncertain terms that was not true.
One Toronto public primary school teacher described his first “straightforward” report card comments returning to his desk from the principal’s office. “I was told to be more empathetic to how parents feel about their own children, to re-phrase my wordings to be increasingly diplomatic,” he wrote in an email.
So instead of telling parents their kid was disorganized and his desk was messy, the teacher now writes: “Johnny consistently places his materials inside his desk in a random order. He is highly encouraged to adopt a more streamlined organizational style, so that during in-class work periods he is able to locate his documents with greater ease.”
Read the rest of Catherine Porter's article here.