The first round of design discussions ended with the identification of a need to run the re-designed report card with school teachers, especially those who are involved with the evaluation process. Tarun managed to set up a meeting with one of the teachers (by writing a beautiful e-mail) at DPS, Bopal–Mr. Noble Thomas, who has been working on creating systems (as excel spreadsheets and web based) to make it easier for teachers to handle evaluation data and remove the burden of making all the calculations to convert marks to aggregated grades.
It was by chance that there was also a PTA meeting at the school on the day I went to meet Mr. Noble. So after a nice ride on a bike with the wind blowing across my face, I got the opportunity to sit on some parent-teacher discussions. Since it was the middle of the academic year, the report card was not out yet but I could observe the concern on the parents’ faces and the yearning for some kind of feedback from the teachers. It almost felt like the teachers were counsellors for the parents–they just needed someone to talk to about their children.
Meeting Mr. Noble, who is a physics teacher (and extremely enterprising) proved to be extremely insightful. He confirmed my understanding of the evaluation system by drawing a simple flowchart to explain its various components and weighting. He showed me how teachers fill in evaluation data into the web-based system that the school has developed and how that gets reflected into grades.
When I shared the design of the report card that I had come up with, he was quickly able to identify areas that were ambiguous–the representation of the grading scale. I had not taken into account decimal points, so my grading scale would create confusion about the grade for a student who has scored marks between 90 and 91 (for example). Would he be given an A1 or an A2? Mr. Noble clarified that in their school, a student would be awarded the higher grade only if they score above 90 and anything up to 90 would be awarded the lower grade.
The web based system that they used required teachers to fill in about 5 to 10 questions to decide a grade for each indicator, which made it about 60-70 questions for each student. So it still took quite some time to evaluate each student. He also mentioned that the descriptive indicators were not entirely true or reflected the grade of the student as the CBSE mandate requires the descriptive indicators to be only written on a positive note, but the grade might not comply with what was written. Therefore, teachers get limited with their choice of words and parents are usually confused due to the conflict that this presents.
The inclusion of progress bars was something that he thought made a lot of sense to give an idea about the progress made by the student at a quick glance. So, with some refinements and careful consideration, the design should add value to the existing report card.
Now to the next iteration of the design of the report card.