Progress Report Comments
A teacher calls a unit president to ask if the principal can direct the teacher to:
- Change some of the comments in the learning strategies and subject/strand boxes on the new progress report,
- Include full paragraph comments for every subject/strand, and
- Only use comments from a bank of prepared comments.
The direction from the principal was prompted by information that was posted on the board’s internal website requesting that teachers use full paragraphs of prepared comments on the progress report for every subject/strand.
- Principals do have the authority to change students' marks, to promote a student to whom a teacher has issued a failing grade and to request that comments be changed on a report card. If a principal is requesting that a teacher change their comments, those comments are no longer the teacher’s and the teacher cannot be expected to justify the changed comments. The teacher should follow the directive but make the principal aware that parents will be redirected to him/her for further discussion. Additionally, the teacher should consider not signing the progress report/report card if he or she does not agree with the amended comments.
- Teachers are not expected to fill in all the available space. Teachers may choose how much to write in the comment area. Additionally, teachers are not required to comment on every subject/strand. This is referenced on the edugains.ca website and in the Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario Schools, 2010 document on page 64.
- Teachers use their professional judgment when filling out the progress report card. The term “personalized comments” does not mean there must be a different comment for every student. Teachers may use a comment bank if they find it beneficial. Comments should represent how the student is progressing in language that both the parent and student understand.
Teachers use their professional judgment to indicate how a student is progressing. The Growing Success, 2010 document is the first time that a Ministry of Education policy document recognizes the professional judgment of teachers. The policy defines professional judgment as judgment that is informed by professional knowledge of curriculum expectations, context, evidence of learning, methods of instruction and assessment, and criteria and standards that indicate success in student learning. A teacher’s professional judgment determines which subject areas to comment on and what comments are appropriate.
If a principal has required changes in the comments, and the teacher does not agree with the amended comments, the teacher should not sign the progress reports/report cards. Teachers should be aware that acts defined as professional misconduct under the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 include, “Signing or issuing, in the member's professional capacity, a document that the member knows or ought to know contains a false, improper or misleading statement.”
The principal has the right to make requests of staff members concerning reporting. If you feel that a demand (e.g., change of comments, signing reports you do not agree with etc.) is unreasonable, try to resolve it on your own. If the principal insists that you change the comments and/or sign the amended report, follow the directive, but inform him/her that you will be seeking advice from your local OECTA unit Office, or from OECTA Provincial office. Inform the principal, in writing, that you complied with the directive under duress.