BY ANDREW DAVIS
“How’s it going?” I find myself asking this question often. Whether catching up with a friend or snuggling with one of my boys on the sofa early in the morning, I open with this simple question. When we care, we want to know about those we care about. Sure, we want specifics – what is going well, what could be better – but more we just want to get a feeling for that person’s overall well-being. As I reflect on report cards and conferences, a topic I have spent quite a bit of time on since January, I believe this simple question is at the heart of these more formal school communications. You care deeply about your child. So do we. And three times a year we offer a formal check in with the goal of communicating how it is going. It is my hope that with our newly revised report cards, launching in the Fall 2019, we will give more specific, useful information as well as an overall picture of your child’s academic and social well-being.
Our redesign process has been far richer than simply thinking about how best to answer the question, “How’s it going?” Using input from parents and faculty, we crafted a survey to measure the effectiveness of our current report cards and conferences. The Report Card Task Force (RCTF), a group of faculty and administrators, then reviewed all of that survey data to create a set of six priorities for our new report cards:
More succinct skill and competency checklists
Greater consistency of language across classes and grade levels
Balance and clarity of academic versus social emotional learning content
Documenting growth over time
Manageable for faculty to complete
The RCTF then reviewed over a dozen report cards from independent schools from around the world looking for models that would best realize these goals. Our global search was quite fruitful in that the American School of London proved to be our greatest inspiration. Building on the ASL template, we leveraged elements from a number of schools to create a new MTS report card for 2019-20. A few highlights of this new format include:
A comprehensive report on social emotional learning skills combined with personalized feedback on your child’s overall well-being from the homeroom teachers or advisor.
Condensed and simplified academic feedback that separately documents work habits and content mastery.
Brief, individualized narrative “strength” and “next step” for each student in core academic classes.
Skills and competencies that remain consistent throughout the year to more clearly communicate growth over time.
This new format will also lead to more effective conferences with clear delineation of social emotional well-being, academic feedback, and clear strengths and next steps for each student. It will also, undoubtedly, require more time from our already hard-working teachers, and I will be working to carve time out for them to write. The end result, though, will be a report card that is more clear, personal, and – I believe – effective at answering the question we all want to know, “How’s it going?”
While most of these changes have to wait until next year, we have implemented the brief narrative “strength” and “next step” in the final report card of the 2018-19 academic year, emailed home in the days head. This is just one of the many improvements coming to the MTS feedback cycle in 2019-20.
I hope you all enjoy a phenomenal summer, and I look forward to hearing the joyous answers from your children when they return to campus next August and I ask, “How’s it going?”