Its time to get the design validation under way—to get feedback from parents and teachers about the redesigned report card, and include their views to guide the future of the report card. I met with Dr. Niyati Lakhani who is the mother of Kahan, a 13 year old boy in class 7. She was very welcoming and we discussed at length about the project and coming from a background of healthcare & pedagogy, she was quite spot on with some of her observations and suggestions.
I had initial trouble explaining to her how redesigning the report card would change anything with respect to the education system and CCE, but gradually she understood some of my ideas, concerns and constraints as well as appreciated the fact that I acknowledged those.
Key Points from the Interview:
– Most parents have a very hard time understanding the report card, lose interest and concentrate only on the scholastic areas since the children do not care about the other indicators, and the teachers have no fair justification or standard methodology to grade other areas.
– The placement of the grading scale for different sections right next to the display of grades made it a lot easier for her to refer to the scale and derive meaning out of the report card.
– The inclusion of progress bars and the shift of focus from the overall grade to progress over time is also a good change. However, she found it hard to comprehend the report card without the overall grade, since that is the first-go-to indicator for parents.
– She also said that since there is no fair basis for evaluating students on co-scholastic areas and especially their life skills, it becomes rather mind boggling for parents to understand, and it becomes an extremely complex array of information to comprehend. She suggested reducing the number of indicators drastically instead of increasing them. Also, to re-examine the indicators that are being evaluated, or at least provide an explanation of what is expected out of the student since the descriptive indicators and the grade often are not synchronized in meaning.
– The concept of sorting the subjects in order of the highest to the lowest grade was taken well but she raised a very important point that it isn’t easy to understand the report card and people have developed a mental model with the standard order of subjects. Rearranging those might distort their perception and would confuse the parents even more. This would need to be included systemically and explained to the parents and students by the school.
– She mentioned that teaching is a side-profession for most people (especially women), and since there aren’t enough teachers and most women move along with their husbands, they usually do not take ownership of their profession. This leads to a lack of understanding of the student and a disconnect between the teacher and parent.
– She suggested studying the perception of parents from different backgrounds as those who are professional are more concerned about maths and science because they want their children to be able to sustain themselves at a later stage and make a career for themselves, where as parents with businesses wouldn’t be as concerned since the child is expected to inherit the family business. Certain subjects are also neglected because of this mindset.
Apart from the validation of the design, she spoke about the influence of technology and gaming on student psyche and time spent with parents – raising the point that there is a need to understand the difference between a “degree” and “education”, and education goes beyond school into homes. A generation gap was clearly felt (even with me), in terms of ideology, belief systems and values. I might not be in a position to agree or disagree with her having my own set of perceptions and beliefs, the concern of a parent came through very clearly.
I would conclude saying the interview left me with mixed feelings about the design of the report card. What was very clear though was that presentation of student learning on one side, the very content being presented needs to be examined and teachers need to be sensitized and motivated, more importantly need to realize that they are grooming the future of the country, and have to take ownership and responsibility of the fact.