We publish narrative reports twice a year at my school and the investment on return is simply too low. Teachers are so stressed during the reporting period and parents and students might not always read or understand the comments provided. Time should be strategically spent on designing learning engagements that help students develop conceptual understanding, approaches to learning skills, building relationships, and so on. The narrative report comments are summative feedback and they provide little use for students as they have already moved on learning a new unit.
Nevertheless, I also understand that it will be unrealistic to drop this practice (writing narrative report card comments) completely. If we have not made learning visible to students and parents, the narrative report cards function as a tool to provide an overview of the student's learning over a period of time. More and more schools share their practices on providing formative feedback, and ditch the narrative report cards. However, I was not able to find a detailed process or implementation to support this paradigm shift. I want to change this practice and encourage teachers to invest energy helping students develop effective learner qualities through formative feedback. Feedback is powerful way to affect student achievement (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) What's most important is that students must understand the feedback and act upon it.
I proposed the school to let me run a pilot project on formative assessment and feedback. Teachers who are interested in this project can join voluntarily. We also want to increase teacher agency in professional development through this pilot. When we just started last year, we had no idea how this might work and simply followed Hattie's feedback system, Feed Up, Feed Back, and Feed Forward. After one year piloting, we gradually revise our goal and develop our own model. A useful step for me was to interview every teacher at the beginning of this school year to help refine and develop a more focusing goal. This somehow turns into an action research now based on my curiosity to compare the students' performance and achievement based on intervention implemented.
Through this project, we focus on intentionality, craftsmanship, and collaboration required from both the teacher and student. These are the key three ingredients to increase development for all parities, including parents. For teachers, our goals are to develop effective pedagogical practices, design purposeful and meaningful formative assessment and learn how to provide "effective" feedback. "Effective" feedback means the comments that students can understand and are actionable. The feedback should also be provided in time.
Feed Up, Back, Forward
More details of this action research will be shared once we have gone through the process.