This is going on within the classroom

This lesson describes how to communicate learning progress. It specifically focuses on the tools of summative documentation, formative communication, and standardized documentation.

Reporting Progress

Gone are the days when students went to school and simply brought home a report card every few months.

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Nowadays, educational standards mandate much more reporting, so communication between the parent, the student, and the educator is paramount in most schools.To dive into this a bit more, today’s lesson will include some common ways to report student learning progress. Because this is such a broad topic, we’ll stick to a few main reporting methods.

Summative Documentation

Our first type of communication is that of summative documentation. Summative documentation communicates student progress at the end of a learning period. Report cards are probably the most employed forms of summative documentation.Like report cards, most summative documentation is official in nature.

Due to its official nature, summative documentation usually requires a parent or guardian’s signature. This is not only important to ensure student learning; in today’s educational climate, it’s also necessary for teacher protection. Unhappy is the day that a parent calls to tell administration they had no idea little Johnny had failed three of the last four quarters of math. Signed summative documentation will put this spark out before it has a chance to flame.

Formative Communication

Along with summative documentation, we have formative communication. Unlike the summative type, this type communicates student learning during instruction. Formative communication can be documented with things like mid-term progress reports.

However, it can also be as casual as a phone call home or an encouraging teacher note.Either way, this communication type is utilized to let students and parents know how things are going. Does little Johnny need more concentrated homework help in math? Is Suzy struggling in science? Formative communication is necessary to answer these questions before it’s too late. Utilizing it cuts many problems off at the pass.

Standardized Documentation

Today’s very legislated educational climate also mandates standardized documentation as a means of communication. As the name implies, standardized documentation communicates results of standardized assessments measuring and comparing student performance.Made compulsory by things like No Child Left Behind and the new Common Core Standards, standardized documentation or standardized communication from school to the home is rife with legal standards and dictates. A report card or a benchmark grade is no longer enough to fill communication requirements.

Casual Documentation

Fortunately, not all communication needs to be so formal. Schools still have some home-grown options for communication.

For instance, some educators employ newsletters as a way to keep parents abreast of what’s going on.For example, my daughter’s teacher sends a weekly ”What’s going on Letter” home every Friday. Other educators require students to have an agenda book that is to be signed nightly by a parent.

This means of communication gets everyone involved. Still other schools have monthly open houses in which parents are invited to view student presentations and portfolios. Rather than just reading statistics or letter grades on a form, parents get to see firsthand what is going on within the classroom walls.

Lesson Summary

Today’s educational climate demands open communication between students, parents, and educators. This communication can be accomplished in a variety of ways.Summative documentation communicates student progress at the end of a learning period.

Usually being a written, official, and requiring a parent signature, report cards are a great example of summative documentation.Formative communication communicates student learning during instruction. Formative communication can be casual or formal.

It ranges from a teacher note to a benchmark report.Standardized documentation communicates results of a standardized assessment measuring and comparing student performance. Mandated by legislation like No Child Left Behind and Common Core Standards, standardized documentation carries many legal standards and implications.Despite the current educational climate, some communication can still be relaxed and informal. It can take on the form of newsletters, agenda books, and open houses.


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