My school division has invested in a student information management system. The program is a powerful tool which manages all student information including, attendance, grades, behavior, student demographics, and even health status. The Province (Manitoba, Canada) has recently issued a unified reporting strategy including a new report card for all students who go to school in Manitoba, Canada.
Power School has allowed us to open student information to any degree that we like to share with parents. We are currently sharing attendance, and allow parents to see the last final marks from the previous term. By the end of this week we will be opening our student portal to parents so that they can see what their children accomplishing on a weekly basis. Parents can choose to receive the information daily, weekly, biweekly…(you get the drift). The point is that now that parents will be aware of student’s academic status they will be able to inquire, assist, or simply be aware of their child’s performance at school without having to look for progress reports often crumpled up in the bottom of backpacks.
The report card will become a true summative report which will be generated from the data parents have already been presented with, no surprises. We as a staff even have the ability to monitor student and parent access to the portal, which is also great. In some ways I am glad that I was schooled in the 80’s as I only had to worry about three blue tri-fold reports.
After considering our options we have decided to take advantage of our well informed parents and shift our reporting period to a point before each of our reports are published, a process we are calling progress reports. During these sessions students, parents and teachers meet in a tri-conference format (for the first report) to set goals and see samples of student work. This shift has been celebrated by all involved because it has shifted the conversation from what a student didn’t do to what they can do or better yet what we will do together to foster growth. Tri-Conferences are not our final destination but they are a starting point were we will shift from traditional Parent Conferences where students may or may not be present to full student led conferences where students are not only present but lead the conversation.
Putting our students assessment results on our student information system has opened up the conversation of the intent and purpose of conferences and reporting. The process of placing assessments online has opened up the “black box” to parents who can now see where teachers are drawing their conclusions about students from and it free’s up time for teachers to focus on learning behaviours and goal setting.
The results will be informed parents, goal setting students and constructive meetings to plan for the future. The future is bright.