Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reporting "in the interim"

It means "in between" or "provisional": but what is an interim report for?

Some of our time this morning was spent looking at our practice of interim reporting. Of course, it is a requirement in this jurisdiction, but what is its purpose?

We tossed around a number of questions about the "interim", which in turn suggested others:

Who is it for? Is it meant to give feedback to students about what is working well, and what isn't? Is it meant to point out where the student needs to work harder? Is it meant for parents, as an "early warning signal" of impending doom on the report card?

Are we reporting on specific assignments? on learning outcomes met? on units of study completed? Is it meant to describe behaviour, attitude, concentration or work habits? or all of the above?

How do we report? Is it a check mark? a numbered code? a letter (G, S, N, Y, A, B, C+, F...) or an anecdotal remark? How helpful are the kinds of comments we make? "This student is failing this course." "Lovely student." "Good worker." "Must try harder." "Will not likely pass."

As we near "trick or treat" time, it's also interim time. Asking these questions ("What do we hope to accomplish?") might help parents, students and teachers make better use of the exercise.



Anonymous said...

Can we justify saying, "Is failing" on an October interim?


Ms. Panas said...

For me, the first interim is a way to do a couple of things--take a moment to do an overall review of how each individual student is progressing (for my own clarification and for thinking about instructional planning), and let the student & parent know if I see any serious concerns about their ability to meet the curriculum expectations AT THAT POINT. However, since I often do not have a summative assessment completed at the first interim, it's only a guess--a guess based on formative assessments, my experience and professional judgment, but a guess nonetheless. I'm not sure how clear parents are on this, but I'm glad our admin discourages the use of marks in the progress column.

I think interims later in the year can be useful, and a way to let parents and students know where they stand, giving them the chance to make changes that may result in better achievement. Although many students do not make those changes, some do, and they are the ones who justify doing interim reports later in the year.