Why do we STILL have reports?

Why is it that, in this day and age of instant communication, most schools and parents still expect the kind of report card suited to another era?

Why do reports traditionally go out twice a year, when there are endless ways teachers and learners can, and do, communicate their learning throughout the year?

Why do teachers spend great chunks of time reporting in a summative way on a final report, when formative assessment, goals and ‘feed forward’ during the year are so much more valuable?

Why don’t teachers, parents and learners share the learning via online portfolios, easily accessible throughout the year, demonstrating process, progress and final product, with facility for reflection by students, feedback by parents and ‘feedforward’ by teachers?

Why don’t learners communicate their learning more with parents and the wider world through the many possible channels available online?

Why do governments and administrators continue to dictate not just the existence of report cards, but often the format and parameters they should fit?

What if the hours teachers spend writing and proofreading reports were instead allocated to professional learning and collaborative planning that enhanced future learning?


WHY has so little changed in the four years since I last wrote those questions?

9 thoughts on “Why do we STILL have reports?

  1. The answer for us is because we have a state mandated curriculum framework that says we have to do this. If we could choose to report in other ways we would. And those schools who have choice, should be. Parents also seem to believe they need these Reports

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  2. I’m with you on this one and couldn’t agree more! I suppose that in a mandated system, you have to “go with the flow”. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we can innovate inside the box. If we can’t get rid of them, then how can we improve them? I know of some schools in the States that have gamified learning so that “reports” are based on badges and not letter grades. A mastery approach, if you will. But I’m wondering with all this ‘enhancement’ in the PYP if we shouldn’t be exploring how we might get the students to write their own report cards. Honestly, I think if we all put our heads together, this old piece of history can be transformed to reflect the modern age that we live in.

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  3. Being in a role that supports the implementation of biannual reporting, it is an intriguing question. What I find the most interesting is how little schools are actually mandated to do. Even though they need to provided judgements (for some things) twice a year and feedback to parents twice a year (which can be in person), it sometimes feels as if we have bought into some myth that we must provide written reports and that parents want it. Even worse, everyone has a belief as to how they must look.

    It has been good to see some of the schools that I have spoken to really strip back some elements, especially in regards to specialists. It always amazes me the amount of time spent by a teacher who would potentially see the children for an hour a week.

    It will be interesting to see if Gonski 2.0 brings any changes, but I guess that is your point about solutions being pushed on schools. I also look forward to reading ACER’s research into the area and the general guidelines that they put forward.

    Syndicated at Read Write Collect

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    1. There are still mandated aspects and our parents still want them, I believe. Ours are quite ‘stripped back’ already… and still! We need to be creative and see how we can get around those things!

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  4. We ditched ‘traditional reports’ at the start of last year for exactly these reasons. We have every child on a collaborative google sheets document shared with parents, teachers and Principal. Through this we have goals, evidence, feedback, learning stories, summative assessment, formative assessment, self-reflection, parent feedback……24/7 access……learning conversations available every term, sharing evenings twice a term….there’s a mid year and end of year summary as well to meet the legislative requirements for ‘reporting in plain language twice a year’ – up to parents whether it’s printed off or not…..Leaders just need to be brave enough to lead change and educate their communicate to come on the journey with them!

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