Few topics create more problems between parents and educators than grading and reporting. And few problems are more difficult to solve. Parents, students, teachers, and school administrators all seem to agree that we need better grading and reporting systems. Rarely do these different groups agree, however, on what form those new systems should take. Parents want clear and useful information on how their child is doing in school. Teachers want to inform parents about students' academic performance. But mutually satisfying these different wants often proves difficult.
Changes educators have made in grading and reporting in recent years have intensified these problems. Instead of using numerical marks or letter grades, many teachers today report students' learning progress on “grade level standards” and “developmental continuums.” Educators believe these new methods provide parents with better and more descriptive information than do letter grades and traditional report cards. But many parents find these new methods confusing and unclear. Even those who understand the new forms have a hard time figuring out the adequacy of their child's performance or whether it's in line with the teacher's expectations. That's why, after reviewing a newly developed reporting form, they frequently turn to the teacher and ask, “So, how's my kid doing?”