Friends School of Minnesota mid-year narrative assessments about our students will soon be compiled, stuffed in envelopes, stamped, and sent to our families. These twice yearly reports are the culmination of a long process of assessment, reflection, and many hours of careful writing. Narrative assessments express our belief as progressive education institution that much what is learned at school or known about a child cannot be measured by letter grades or similar measures alone. What is the value of narrative assessments?
Narrative assessments are a teacher’s communication with the family about each student’s learning development. The student’s depth of accomplishment and their areas of strength and challenge are shown. Teachers are also able to communicate about what has been accomplished with the class as a whole and how each child fits into the daily life of the academic and social life of the classroom. At Friends School of Minnesota, narrative reports are used throughout the grades K-8 and are used in conjunction with letter grades in most middle school subjects.
We find narrative reports to have many benefits to many audiences.
Value to the family
Through the profile of the student, the teacher illustrates how s/he knows the student as a learner. As parents, you are the child’s first teacher and know them well. Teachers can add to that knowledge of your child by describing and sharing insight into his/her life at school in both academic and social realms. Narratives are a place for families to hear about goals, struggles, and areas for celebration. Narratives also provide some overview of the work that has been done throughout the semester including topics and skills that can lead to deeper discussions at home.
Value to the child
Nothing makes a child feel more secure and cared for than being known. Whether or not they read them directly, the process of gathering information, assessing, and writing reports helps children to understand that they are known as individuals in the school setting. As children mature they may begin to develop an interest in their narrative reports. The information in a narrative report can help a student become aware of his/her abilities, and see when and how to implement those abilities. They begin to see areas for growth and improvement and continue todevelop a sense of themselves as students.
Value to the teacher/school
In order to write narrative reports, teachers are engaged in ongoing observation, assessment and analysis of each student. A teacher’s careful reflection while writing reports helps him/her to identify the areas of relative strength and need for specific children as well as the group as a whole. During narrative writing teachers are able to both reflect and plan ahead for the needs of the children.
A Progressive Education Assessment Tool
Because FSM has decided to report to parents in a narrative style we are expressing our values as a progressive education institution. We want to assess and communicate what we deem is important about the lives of your children and that takes more than letter grades. When teachers identify students as unique thinkers and articulate a student’s individual personality, all audiences benefit.