How is our work reflected in the reporting we do to parents/guardians?
As primary faculty trainers for Literacy Collaborative, we have come up against this question for many years as we work through implementation issues with schools. I’m wondering about all of this and hope you’ll be able to share some of your thoughts and experiences with me.
Firstly, what we do doesn’t line up quickly and easily with the current structure of many reporting devices used by school systems. Working from a complex theory of reading and writing seems not to align with the mainstream. When we consider the strategic actions that are outlined in a document we use thoughtfully in our teaching lives (The Continuum of Literacy Learning), we work diligently with colleagues to teach towards the competencies listed grade by grade level or text by text level along a gradient of difficulty for guided reading instruction. Teaching and reporting aren’t always the same.
Secondly, this information isn’t designed for reporting to parents – who’s at level E and who’s at level K or what we consider when planning for interactive read aloud experiences. These are tools used to improve and strengthen our teaching practices. The list of proficiencies/competencies in The Continuum of Literacy Learning is jargon to parents and yet, if well understood, very powerful indicators to us as practitioners.
Thirdly, how do we translate the proficiencies from The Continuum of Literacy Learning in reading, writing and language/word study into clear, understandable language for parents/caregivers? Having studied numerous reporting measures recently (and I realize I’ve just touched the surface), I find limited space available for reporting reading, writing, and word study competencies and they often don’t seem to be written in a way to provide a parent or caregiver information as to what is coming under control for their student and what are the expectations for him/her as a learner across the year in the various subject areas.
So, what are the options for taking complicated information and sharing it with parents in a way that will inform and help them understand and plan for supportive experiences at home? How does that reporting align with day to day practices in our classrooms? Where do complexity and practicality line up? And, now, how do the Common Core State Standards align with report cards and how they are reported to parents?
I wish I had all of the answers to that line of thinking, but I continue to grapple with the issues myself. Fortunately there are resources available for teachers to use when it comes to speaking to parents. Some professional resources that I would suggest include the following links:
The Continuum of Literacy Learning and the Common Core
A blog post that could also help you in facilitating a conversation with parents would be:
Remember, each link comes at this important topic from their own perspective, so read each with a critical eye to be sure it will meet your needs as a school district.