The competition we faced back home always prompted us to cross-examine our children when they came home with a report card or a test result. We always wanted to know as to who got the maximum marks, where does our child stand in the class, etc. At the end of Grade 11 of Nikhil in June 20114, when our son came home with the report card, he declared “do not ask me how others did as I have no clue as I did not ask anyone about it”. It is indecent to ask someone their marks in Canada and the marks are confidential and is never announced in public. The report cards are handed over to the students in a sealed envelope, obviously to ensure confidentiality.
The aim of a progress report in Canada is to enable the students to reach their potential, and to succeed. It is a real challenge for the school as every student is unique and they got to ensure each student gets adequate opportunities to achieve success according to his or her own interests, abilities, and goals. The reporting is fair, transparent, and equitable for all students. It supports all students, including those with special education needs and all those learning the language of instruction (English or French). The curriculum is carefully planned to relate to the expectations, learning goals and cater to the interests, learning styles and preferences, needs, and experiences of all students.
All aspects of learning are communicated clearly to students and parents at the beginning of the school year and at other appropriate points throughout the school year or course. The reporting provides a descriptive feedback that is clear, specific, meaningful, and timely to support improved learning and achievement. It also develops students’ self-assessment skills to enable them to assess their own learning, set specific goals, and plan next steps for their learning.
The high school report card looks more like the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) in the army – it appears as if it leaves no aspects of learning skills and work habit of the child uncovered. The aspects covered in the report are Responsibility, Organization, Independent Work, Collaboration, Initiative and Self-Regulation. Strengths and Steps for Improvement are listed out for each subject separately.
My mind raced back to our Sainik School days and even our army course days; where no marks were ever kept confidential and were mostly put up on a notice board. What an injustice, especially to those who did not fare well.
Once I perused his report card, I asked him a few questions to find out some details about the steps for improvement and we discussed in detail as to how he is going to prepare for his Grade 12. After discussing the same, I casually asked our son as to how his friends did. Our son theorised that students want to either show off their marks or feel a bit good when they have really done well or in case they haven’t, they are looking for someone who did worse. He was not in either and hence did not find out how others did. I realised that what he said was what I had been doing all throughout my life, either blow the trumpet, or look for someone who did worse to feel happy that you are not the worst.
Our son had done exceptionally well in French and the teacher rewarded him with a recommendation for a cultural and educational exchange program in France. He went to Paris (01 July 2014) and returned on 31 Jul with a French Grade 11 Student, Guillaume Le Floch. Nikhil stayed with the Le Floch family for a month in France. Guillaume stayed with us and returned to France on 31 Aug.
While Nikhil was away for a month, I felt a vacuum, both in my mind and at home. Our dog Maximus seemed pretty depressed and had been running all over the house looking for Nikhil.
We will all got to get used to such absence of the kids and this will prepare us to learn to live without them in times to come.