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Friday, October 24, 2008

First Report Card

Last week Kayla received her first report card. For the most part it wasn't a surprise, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I'm not in denial, I'm not naive, I know my daughter has delays and that she won't get all glowing remarks - I know there will be plenty of areas where she "needs improvement" or isn't quite working at grade level.

The report card is basically broken up in two areas. The first part is on Language Arts and Math. These grades are 1-4 with 4 being advanced (concepts and skills above proficiency) and 1 being emerging (difficulty meeting grade level standards).

The second section is titled Lifelong Learning and the marks there are Satisfactory, Improving, Needs Improving, and Unsatisfactory.

One section is Work Habits. Listed under that are:
Produces quality work consistent with capabilities
Listens and follows directions
Completes work in a timely manner
Organizes self and materials
Maintains adequate attention span
Works independently
Makes good use of time

She received Needs Improving on all of those (which I fully understand why) except the first one - producing quality work consistent with capabilities - for that she received Unsatisfactory.

This is our first time dealing with a report card, so I'm a little confused by that. If Kayla is producing work that she is capable of why is it unsatisfactory? I realize her work isn't the same as the other kids in the class, largely because of her delay in fine motor skills. I realize she isn't doing the same things most of the kids in her class are; however, isn't this descriptor saying it's quality work consistent with capabilities? Doesn't that mean what she is capable of doing?

If she isn't trying to do anything at all, and refusing to do any work, or randomly scribbling on paper when they've asked her to trace a circle, then I can see how that's unsatisfactory, because she's capable of doing more than that. I've seen the work they've sent home and it seems she is trying to do the worksheets to the best of her ability.

So I asked her teacher about this. She told me, to paraphrase (because I don't remember what she said word for word) this is based on Kindergarten work and she's not doing what they're doing etc. I asked her about the wording and doesn't this mean it's based on what she is even capable of doing? She didn't think it was, she thought it was based on comparitive Kindergarten work. I thought the first section of the report is based on Kindergarten work and that's why the grades are 1-4 - those are based on below, at, or above grade-level work. This section scored on satisfactory/improving/unsatisfactory. Aren't those, in some ways, two different things?

Her teacher did say she was going to talk to the special ed teacher and get more clarification on it.

I know there are a few teachers out there who read my blog - so I'm hoping you can explain it better to me. Am I misreading this? Am I not interpreting it correctly that it is based on work she's capable of producing?

Am I making too big a deal of this? Should I not even worry about it? It is just the first marking period of her first report card. I'm not upset that she has an unsatisfactory, but I want to understand the reasoning for the "grades" and how the grades are determined. If she's at least trying to do what she's capable of shouldn't that be a Needs Improving and not Unsatisfactory?

Get It Down; 31 for 21

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Shelley said...

What did her IEP progress report show? That's the one you really need to be looking at. That's the one that will "grade" her performance on her individual goals.
For what it's worth, I'd have interpreted the wording on that report card the same way you did.

Mom24 said...

I know how enormously frustrating report cards can be. Try to remember they're highly subjective and they will vary year to year depending on the teacher's interpretation. My kids have had teachers who will never give 4s no matter what, others who give them out willy nilly. It's hard because there's no consistency. It doesn't matter so much your interpretation of the wording (although I do agree with you), as that you understand what the teacher's thought processes are and why she marks it the way she did. In the long run, it really doesn't mean a whole lot. {{{Hugs}}}

Sandra said...

I don't think you're making too big a deal of it Michelle, you want to know exactly what is going on. I would have interpreted it exactly the same way you did.

Killlashandra said...

I'd be asking questions too. That doesn't quite make sense. I emailed my Mom who has taught elementary school for years and asked her to read you post and let me know what she thinks. I'll send it on. Keep questioning. :)

RK said...

I'm not at this point in our process yet, but for what it's worth, I'd read that the same way. I think you questioned it appropriately and it's probably good that this teacher gets some clarification so that everyone can be clear on what's actually meant to be conveyed with those "grades."

Man, I so don't look forward to this stuff!

Mommy Bee said...

I would have interpreted it the same way. Hmmm. And, I agree...some clarification would be helpful. I'm interested to see what other teachers have to say about it, too.

much more than a mom said...

What everyone else has said is totally right. Report cards are and will always be subjective, no matter how hard we try. However, you are reading the words literally and it sounds to me like you're right. What matters is that you and the teacher are on the same page with helping Kayla succeed.

Anonymous said...

I had the school stop sending me report cards and just send me IEPs that included behavior and such.Her skills are then "graded" by percentage towards mastery and the behaviori lettered traditionally-S,N,U etc.

I have gotten that statement before in Kendalls report and that usually meant that she was doing what all she could.Usually due to lack of interest on her part.

Anonymous said...

I, too, would have interpreted what you did. I also would have raised the same questions, and I am happy that her teacher is going to not only get clarification, but input from the special ed colleague. I am interested to hear about the followup -- and I hope you receive satisfactory answers, too. Keep us posted.

Bonded for life said...

I don't think you making too much of it. Of course you want her to do the best SHE can, and she shouldn't be compared to other kids. BTW she is too cute!!

Karen said...

The issue I'd be most concerned with is whether or not she's enjoying school and if you think she's shown any improvement since starting.

That being said, it's hard to see our kids being "judged."

Chris said...

Michelle--I don't think you are making a big deal of it either, and I agree with your interpretation as well.

I would have asked the teacher point blank. Do you thing she is doing the best SHE can do? If the answer is "yes" than she should change the report card.

Good for you for questioning. I am not looking forward to the first report card. I hope I am as rational about it as you are.


Me said...

I would have read it exactly the same way as you did. I also don't think you're making a big deal of it either, I'd be asking for clarification also. :)

Sabrina said...

As a kindergarten teacher and parent, I can see why you interpreted it the way you did. I don't look forward to sending report cards home for any kid. It is very subjective and many times a child will do something for their parents such as count to 20 but not do it for me on the day I test them because they are nervous or just having a bad day. If a parent comes to me and says they can do it then I believe them and write it down as completed. They know their child. I don't look forward to getting reports on Abbi when she starts school. I only want to hear what she can do and not what she can't. That list seems too long most days.
Keep up the inquiry but don't put too much stock in it. You know what she can do and encourage the teacher to focus on that too as well as help her along with learning new things.

Cate said...

I would have read it the same way you did. "consistent with capabilities" is a pretty big modifier, and not one that seems to include comaparisons to other kids.

I'm glad you said something. If nothing else, the teacher will learn something.

Finding Normal said...

As a 4th grade teacher, our report cards are completely number based and so much less subjective. I imagine grading Ks and 1s is tough, but I would have interpreted that wording the exact same way. Good idea to ask about it, but I wouldn't worry too much, even if the consensus is that your interpretation is "wrong". I would focus on the IEP progress note and your own gut feelings about her progress. Do they write any anecdotal notes besides the straight ratings? We used to write notes, but once the computer began generating them, we can only pick from weird comments which is frustrating because they are so generic.
Hang in there, Mom! You're both doing great with the transition!

Jann said...

I am not a teacher but I felt the same way as you did reading that. How frustrating!!

Anonymous said...

Oh I totally sympathize with you! I HATE report cards. I talk to the teachers, everything is great in the daily reports and then I get those bizarre and subjective grades and it makes me PISSED! I like to think that I am pretty normal, lol. Seems like most of the commenters agree with me (not about the normal part). My daughter got an unsatisfactory in art! One thing that is a good idea is to ask about the grades as you did and it will raise consciousness at the very least. Comparisons are so difficult....

Anonymous said...

I think that also part of the problem is the four choices of what your child could receive.
The first comment should of left out the to their capability comment (it's more of a grade/comment you would read on a IPP or IEP (whatever it is called in your jurisdiction). If satisfactory is the highest comment you can get that doesn't make sense if it is compared to a grade level because couldn't you achieve beyond the grade? Just a thought!

chelle said...

I totally think it is fair to want further understanding. If you do not understand how can you advocate for your daughter. Stay on top of them and MAKE them accountable!

Heidi said...

As a former teacher these are my thoughts: You have every right to understand and question the report card. The point is to let YOU know what's going on, so if YOU have questions they should be addressed until YOU feel satisfied. The other thought is that teacher's aren't cookiecutters and they aren't perfect. Sometimes they get it wrong, whether it's just them not understanding, not taking the time to do it right, inexperienced... whatever. They aren't the absolute foremost authority that reads the guidelines the same way. Just stay cool and keep asking until you get your answers. It may help that teacher straighten out where she may be interpreting the info wrong and help other kids.

wendy said...

I am a Kindergarten teacher of 15 years and you are most definitely not making a big deal. She is your child and you are her only voice in school right now. You are exactly right. It is Kindergarten and her teacher should also be celebrating all the wonderful things she can do not just what she can't. My son is mildly autistic and I deal with these things quite a bit-AND I WORK IN THE SCHOOL! Stay on top of it and just remember you agree and only put what you want in her IEP. So, make sure her accomodations are being met that can include an alternative grading scale. You might not need that now but next year or the year after it will make your life much easier. Good Luck!

LauraJ said...

no, you're aren't making a big deal of it. they shouldn't be grading her with the rest of the class or kindergarten program. if she has an IEP or SEP then according to what's written in there for her goals then that is what her grades should be based on.

jennifergg said...

Oh, ugh. I saw Kayla just this summer and I was so IMPRESSED with her. She has fantastic language skills and she's so bright...

I think the report card needs clarifying. I'm glad you are asking about it.


Omaha Mama said...

It seems like her grades should reflect her individual growth and progress toward her individual goals. I also think that your reasoning is right on track. It would matter to me, if it was happening here to my child. I would pursue it. THe teacher should have maybe talked to the case mgr about grades BEFORE the report cards went out. The work Kayla is producing should be grade based on her efforts and capabilities, not on work that she's not even doing because she's not there yet. That's ridiculous. In my opinion.
Please let us know what you find out.

Nancy M. said...

It does sound like it should be the work she is capable of doing. Maybe it's worded wrong. Or maybe we're both confused?

the three amigos said...

That is a very confusing report card!