Like laundry or dishes, if you are a teacher, report cards will have to be done. Over and over and over. These days, however, we don’t really have a lot that we are permitted to say in our comments. What used to be the precious little narrative in which one could convey to a parent that, a) I get your kid and I appreciate them, or, b) I have your kid’s number and yes, he actually does have homework four days a week, despite the story he may be telling you—that has been usurped by the far wiser upper dwellers who know that what parents really want to know is their child’s numerical score on SOMETHING. They also suggest the wording to explain what the hell those numbers are that we are so lovingly sending to our parents. Oh, and, careful not to say anything personal (read: not quantitative). Referring to a student’s personal qualities is considered unprofessional, apparently. I do it anyway; of all the things they are looking to use as an excuse to can teachers, I’ll gladly go down in flames on the “kind and thoughtful” comment.
Thank you for taking up the one little rectangle of text where I felt that my perspective mattered.
And so, dear readers who have graciously read my predictably periodic feature about actual report card comments that we might write, along with their counterparts, the comments that tell the facts in a slightly harsher, less diplomatic light, the gap is widening.
Let’s get to it.
Sherfleece scored 22 on the IRFTY (I Read Faster Than You) assessment. A student performing on grade level should score at least 44. In math, we are studying strategies for understanding place value and addition and subtraction to 1,000. Because she is reading so far below grade level, she does not understand the language on our new, rigorous math tests. She can complete 6 more problems in January than she could in September. By the end of the year, she should be able to complete at least 44.
Sherfleece likes things that are pink. She can spell “pink” on a good day. She requires a team of classmates to tie her three foot long pink shoelaces four times a day. Although she cannot actually read, she prefers to take out her library book during math, as the language in our math instruction for six-year-olds was written by a dude at Oxford University who does have a six-year-old pet turtle. Please send pencils. Please do not send tinted lip gloss, pretty stickers, or craft supplies for making bracelets. Thank you for sharing with me that seven people in your immediate family have an ADHD diagnosis, but we are not sure about Sherfleece yet. My diagnosis: I am a psychic. She’s got it.
Plantain is beginning to identify letter sounds. He sometimes speaks to me in English to use the bathroom. He scored at a Level Subzero on his IRFTY (I Read Faster Than You) assessment, while grade level students should score 44. He scored zero on his math computation assessment. Plantain should be practicing his letter names and sounds at home, and memorizing math facts daily.
Plantain is making great progress, considering the fact that he has lived his entire life in a refugee camp until three months ago. His scores on any test should be the least of your concerns. He is smiling at school and he doesn’t fall asleep after spending the day surrounded by people speaking another language. Plantain is doing just fine.
GIJoe has the potential to be a top student. He is reading at grade level, although he has difficulty answering questions about what he reads. He scored 44 on the IRFTY (I Read Faster Than You) assessment. He also scored 44 on his math computation assessment, but resists showing his work. He will need to make better effort and positive behavior choices in order to continue to progress.
GIJoe acts as if I asked him to go to the scary woods with a bucket to fetch water whenever I ask him about his reading. You’d think he’d be down for the challenge, considering he wears camo head to toe a couple of days a week. He reads like a robot, and when asked a question such as “In what other machines might you find computers used today? Find the answer on p. 5,” his answer reads, “In America and Canada.” Ask him to go to page five, pencils spontaneously break, he can’t hold his head up, page five ceases to exist. If it ain’t easy, he ain’t doing it! Joe steals my markers and chalk and flushes them down the toilet. Teaching GIJoe = Dental Surgery. Six hours a day.