Progress Reports: Computer Output or The Chronicles of Growing Up
The school report card, or “progress report” is such an old ritual of family life that it’s something we rarely take a moment to think about. Typically, the report arrives in our homes on a predictable schedule, presents a snapshot of what has been happening in the classroom and generates a flash of satisfaction, pride, concern or some other innate parental emotion.
Having just edited over 100 teacher-written progress reports, I am struck by the time it takes to write such detailed and individualized reports about Touchstone students. And I don’t mean just the afternoons and evenings that teachers have spent typing the words that appear on the page for parents to read. Progress reports reflect teachers’ long-term investment of time, thought and energy into each child’s growth and development, and perhaps that is why a Touchstone progress report is usually four or five pages long.
Touchstone reports are not cookie cutters. They are not “copy and paste” jobs that result in single pages of numbers and one-line comments that hardly vary no matter which student is being portrayed. Every parent the world over knows that no two kids are the same, so why would school reports offer largely identical reports? Touchstone reports are not driven by numbers and are not generated by computers. Instead, our reports are carefully considered reflections on growth, drawn from deep understanding that has come from meaningful, ongoing relationships between teachers and students.
Touchstone reports tell parents who their child is at school, in our hallways, on the playground, and on field trips. Who they are as learners, friends, and developing citizens of the world. As all progress reports should, we inform parents about strengths and challenges, about hopes and expectations, about goals and wins, and provide many funny anecdotes along the way. Our report cards give so much more than a fixed snapshot of progress at school– each report adds a chapter in an ongoing narrative about young protagonists who are each journeying towards a bright and wonderful future. Reading them, parents feel more than a momentary flash of emotion. They experience a deeper sense of partnership and support, knowing that the entire Touchstone community is with their child on their adventure of growing up.
Angela Campbell, Principal and Chronicler in Chief