Sticky situation

We’re getting ready for our second round of flexible math groups. Before the break we had the students write a test with outcomes ranging from grade 2 all the way to grade 6. All the students from grade 3-5 other than a few exceptions wrote it. We marked the test and as a grade 3-5 team we went over the results and grouped our students based on where they excelled and where they needed more support. We’re focusing on place value and basic number sense for this one.

When it came to writing up letters for students to bring home, showing them and their parents which group they will be in and what skills they’ll be focusing on, there was a bit of a disagreement about what to do. Some parents and some teachers wanted to know which grade level their child the skills their child is working on come from.

On one hand, I get where they’re coming from, kind of. I get that they want to understand whether their child is working at, below or above grade level before the report card comes out. And someone pointed out that we shouldn’t be sugar coating things for parents if their child is working below grade level. If I have a grade 5 student working at a grade 3 level, they should be aware before they see the mark.

On the other hand, I had a lot of emotions in my class when I gave them their letters telling them which class they were going to be in. Lots of questions about what teacher was teaching the “top group” and who was in what group and what grade level everyone was working at. I had a long discussion about how we all have skills that we need to work on and that it’s not a reflection of who they are as a person or even whether or not they are a hard worker or persistent, but that it just meant that on that one day when they took that one test we saw those particular skills needed some work.

I don’t know what would have worked better. I really don’t. Any ideas? We have one more flexible group coming up in a few months and I want to do this better next time.

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