Dear Parents and Friends of St. Michael’s School,
Last Friday concluded the first quarter of the school year, and as a means of communicating student progress, we will be emailing Q1 report cards for students in grades 4-8 on Friday. Report cards for K-3 will be emailed just prior to parent-teacher conferences, because the Standards-Referenced Grading needs a bit of explanation.
Report cards are, until we can design a better tool, a summary of a compilation of scores measuring grade-level skills. They do not measure student growth, nor do they necessarily indicate future success. That’s why I cringe a bit when I hear that parents give their children money for “good” grades – a practice that I would most definitely discourage.
Those of you with multiple children know that each one learns and performs very differently. For some children, the process of school comes very easily, and they are able to perform the requisite tasks necessary to earn an "A" with minimal effort. Other children demonstrate far more motivation, and put forth much more effort, but struggle to demonstrate mastery at that very finite moment in time when the assessment is administered. Some children worry excessively about their performance and progress to the point of anxiety, and others, seemingly could not care less. Rather than paying for grades, consider a celebration dinner, focusing on how much each child grew in skill and knowledge over the past nine weeks. Point out each child’s areas of strength as a gift from God, and that we honor Him when we challenge ourselves to become better.
Children need to figure out the process of school because that will help them on their educational journey. High schools and colleges still look at grades and test scores. Therefore, it is important that children build up their reading stamina by reading every day. This practice leads to improved vocabulary and reinforces writing, which is a requisite skill in every field. There are many studies refuting the idea of homework in elementary school, but I believe that homework teaches the importance of structure and accountability – also essential life skills. And finally, while effort is to be lauded, we must, in the end, perform well the skills we have honed, so setting high standards is crucial.
Remember that your child’s current grade status is just a snapshot in time. While it may be a glimpse into the future, it just as easily might not. If your child struggles with school today, she just might be developing the perseverance and tenacity to see herself through future problem solving situations. Conversely, sometimes “A” students are afraid to seek out challenges because they are worried they might fail, so they settle for roles where they know they will be at the top. As parents, the best support you can provide for your children is encouragement: encouragement to work hard, to try new challenges, and to strive for excellence. Cheer on their successes as well as their failures, but never make a child feel that his worth is dependent on an insignificant grade on a report card.