In a recent article “If Schools Issue Report Cards, Should Students Issue Support Cards?” Kent Pekel of the Search Institute reminds school leaders that “by June, our nation’s elementary and secondary schools will have cumulatively issued more than 100 million of those report cards, each of which will describe and evaluate how well students are meeting the expectations that teachers and schools have set for them.”
Pekel goes on to point out:
“Very few of those students, in contrast, will have the opportunity to describe and evaluate the kind and caliber of support they receive to help them meet those expectations. That imbalance should concern us because studies suggest that young people are most likely to achieve difficult objectives if they experience a mix of both challenge and support. If educators don’t ask how supported young people feel in an organized and ongoing way, they have nothing against which to calibrate the levels of challenge they expect young people to embrace and overcome.”
Here are some key points for school leaders to ponder:
Teacher Effectiveness – The MET Project revealed that student feedback was an accurate predictor of teacher effectiveness. Teachers who frequently checked for understanding, and who proactively sought feedback from students were perceived to be both more caring and more effective.
Informing Instruction -Feedback from students should be not be an assessment of teaching, but should inform instruction, helped to focus review, and to target remediation efforts.
Increased rigor demands increased support! – Pekel points out “the dramatic declines in reading and math scores that are currently being reported in many states confirm that in adopting the Common Core State Standards, the United States has committed itself to another major increase in the level of academic rigor that we expect most of our students to achieve. To help students make that leap, experts and educators across the country are designing new approaches to curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development, and technology. Even as we take those and other steps to change the way the adults in our schools work with young people and with each other, we should also take the time to ask our students if they think they have the support they need to succeed.
The Carnegie report, Opportunity by Design, warns us that “increased demands of content call for increased effort in personalizing the school. Seeking student feedback indicates that we care and that we are committed to their success.
In Rigor is Not a Four Letter Word, Barbara Blackburn defines rigor as:
- Higher Expectations
- Increased Support for Students to Meet Those Expectations
- Students Demonstrating Higher Learning
As we dramatically increase expectations of what students need to know and be able to do (new state standards) and how teachers are expected to teach, school leaders must substantially increase the level of support to both teachers and students.