The New York Times Opinion Page had a piece (which I seem to have misplaced) describing new report cards featuring state mandated standards from a parents perspective. They found the several page document bewildering, and this is coming from a member of the New York Times Editorial Staff. Imagine how the average mom and pop might feel with a report card that reads:
2.1 Understand negative whole-number exponents. Multiply and divide expressions involving exponents with a common base.
Most of the problems in education come from terrible feedback mechanisms. Teachers don’t have the time to give substantial feedback in person, nor do they have time to write intensive analysis on a per student basis. Parents are completely in the dark, even if they try to follow along (and most don’t even try because the information they get isn’t good enough). And students delude themselves into thinking whatever they want to think about their performance. The need is great for better, real-time, actionable reporting to all stakeholders in a kid’s life. The Truth Will Set You Free, or in this case The Truth Will Give You Power Over Your Students.
Standards based reporting is coming. The question is whether or not it can be presented in a fashion that means something and promotes the action necessary to increase student learning and performance.