From the Principal - Mark Geraets
As we move toward the end of Semester 1, it is a time to reflect on learning and to examine the areas in which students are finding success and those where further development and improvement may be required. This information is reflected in our reports. You will have received information from the Junior and Senior Schools regarding the publication of reports. In this newsletter I would like to examine briefly the intention of reporting and how we present this at Scots.
A wide-reaching review into student reporting conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research in 2019 concluded, among other aspects, that a multi-faceted approach to communication about student learning was optimal for students and parents.
The report, titled Communicating Student Learning Progress, commented that “discussions with parents and carers about reports and analysis of teachers’ report comments reveal that communication is clearer when it is not singularly positive: when reports convey both what a student has and has not yet been able to demonstrate, and when parents and carers can see that their child’s performance, progress and achievement is being measured and tracked against some benchmark or standard.”
Additionally, it concludes “Within the context of a school’s broader approach to communicating about student learning, clarity also would be achieved by aligning the foci of different forms of communication – written reports, continuous reporting, parent-teacher interviews and conferences, portfolios – such that greater continuity of information is presented.”
Scots has embraced the multi-faceted method of communicating our students’ learning but we are always reviewing our processes to ensure they meet parental needs and are constructive for our students.
In an effort to best address these findings and to better inform our parents of their child’s progress, in Senior School (this is already taking place in the Junior School) we will supplement our communication methods with a written end of semester report with teacher comments that address what a student is currently achieving and what they can do to develop their learning growth. They will be available to Senior School families from early Term 3 and to Junior School Families from the end of Term 2.
Our intention is to provide parents with a deeper understanding of where their child is at by the end of Semester 1. A key aspect to the report is self reflection and parents are encouraged to discuss this with their child in a positive proactive approach to goal setting for the new Semester.
The ACER report by Hillary Hollingsworth, Jonathan Heard and Paul Weldon was conducted from July 2016 to June 2019 and was part of a strategic initiative focussed on assessment reform and innovation. The report presented eight recommendations and for those wanting to read at greater depth, I encourage you to read it here.
However, I want to highlight two of the recommendations with which our written reports will align perfectly. Recommendation #7. Student reporting should include specific directions for future learning. There is overwhelming support among students for reports that provide them with specific information about how to improve – in particular, what they need to do next to progress in a learning area.
And Recommendation No.8 espouses that communicating student learning should have distinct but complementary purposes: An effective school reporting system will make explicit the distinct role of different forms of communication – continuous reports, written reports, interviews, portfolios, etc. – and the ways that these are intended to work together to ensure cohesion and maximise efficiencies with respect to communicating student learning progress.
Reports are a reflection of what has taken place and a catalyst for setting goals for ongoing development. They enhance the communication between home and school and provide a basis for discussion and support as we look to continue our path of improvement.