The 180

Encore: You shouldn't need an education degree to understand your child's report card

Naomi Buck is a writer, a professional communicator, yet she can't understand the comments on her children's report cards. She says it's time for insightful teacher feedback to return to report cards, and time for the education rhetoric to stop.
This report card is much simpler than the ones Naomi Buck's children brought home this week. (iStock)

"He is working to identify some of the characteristics of different forms of written materials."

That is one of the comments Naomi Buck read on her son's grade 2 report card this week. 

She also read that "he is learning to identify learning opportunities, choices, and strategies to meet his personal needs."

Those comments, and many more like them, have Buck frustrated with the whole report cards process. 

The sadness of the report card is that teachers...[are] exceptionally insightful...but that kind of communication really only happens in person.- Naomi Buck

When she talks to hers sons' teachers at the classroom door, Buck says she learns all sorts of useful things about they're doing in class. But once that information gets cranked through the formal assessment process, it comes out as near incomprehensible rhetoric. 

Buck says she's lucky, because she has a chance to speak with teachers regularly, but not all parents do. 

"That kind of communication only really happens in person, and so for the parent that is not picking up the child, and doesn't have the opportunity to have casual conversations with the teacher, those conversations don't take place. And so I think some parents really do rely on the report card for an assessment. For more than just rhetoric and curriculum points."

While Buck admits the report cards' letter grades help paint a more accurate picture of how her sons are doing in school, she wishes she could read assessments written in the teacher's own voice, which would document the real insight she knows they have. 

Click the "play" button above to hear the full interview with Naomi Buck.