This week, parents and guardians of schoolchildren across the country will receive their first report card of the 2011-2012 school year. For some, the occasion will provide welcome confirmation of a young person’s superior effort. Others will open their mail to find an uncomfortable wake up call. Yet for too many families, the report cards will offer little more than confusion – about how their child is actually behaving, what he or she has actually learned, and whether any meaningful progress has actually been made. “I have a masters degree in education,” said Devon Bartlett, a parent whose children are in first and fourth grade, “and even I can’t make sense of what my child’s report card is trying to tell me. Clearly, we can do better.”
Given how uninformed so many parents feel, and considering how differently the nation’s 100,000+ schools choose to track student growth, is it time to give the school report card an extreme makeover, and dress it up for the 21st century?