Reporting on social skills and enterprise skills

“Governments need to prioritise the teaching, testing and reporting of achievement in capabilities alongside core curriculum. For capabilities to count they need to be measured and reported at a national level, assessed in schools and communicated to parents and considered alongside or contribute to ATAR.” (Mitchell Report, 2016:19).

As you may be aware, St Luke’s Catholic College in Marsden Park is committed to bringing social skills and enterprise skills to prominence for our students and their parents. This commitment has seen us align the Australian General Capabilities with our 6 Pillars of Learning. By focusing our learning around these 6 Pillars, over time, a folio of evidence will emerge for each student to better understand their strengths and capabilities to assist them become creative contributors and innovative problems solvers for a changing world.

At St Luke’s, the 6 Pillars figure prominently when:
  • teachers collaboratively plan the learning,
  • students self reflect on their learning,
  • students seek feedback from peers and teachers, and most recently,
  • when writing semester reports.
As you will see from this sample report, whilst they adhere to A to E reporting requirements, they are very different to most NSW primary school reports. The College undertook an extensive process which was made possible due to:
  • Our Assistant Principal developing many iterations of reports after many collaborative conversations between teachers and the leadership team. Here are her latest reflections about the process.
  • Teachers using Scope and Sequences and Programs to align the 6 Pillars and syllabus outcomes.
  • Parents attending a Parent Engagement Event on Tuesday 13 June. This video was used on that evening to provide “the why” of reporting in this new manner.
Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 2.08.23 PM
“New Ways of Reporting” – Parent Engagement Event, St Luke’s Marsden Park, Tuesday 13 June.
As we know, Parent/Teacher interviews usually follow ‘reporting season’. To complement these new reports, it was identified that another way to bring social skills and enterprise skills to prominence was for the students themselves to reflect and then offer feedback via Student-led Conferences.
At the same Parent Engagement Event on 13 June, parents were informed that the goal of Student-led Conferences is to help students communicate their learning to their parents using their work as evidence. Conversations often tell us more than perhaps we can measure through conventional assessments and through the Student-led Conferences held over the last few weeks, teachers noted that students:
  • shared understandings of their strengths according to the 6 Pillars,
  • confirmed areas for improvement; and,
  • highlighted personal achievements of which they were proud.
The initial verbal feedback is quite encouraging about both reports and Student-led Conferences. Collectively, teachers and leaders now see many possibilities for closer alignment between daily learning, weekly ​​formative feedback and summative reporting at the end the year. In saying that, the Leadership Team is overseeing processes which will obtain feedback from parents, teachers and students via surveys. This feedback will assist our thinking for the next iteration of reports.
Exciting times!
As usual, I would appreciate your time to provide comments or ask questions.
Regards
Greg

14 thoughts on “Reporting on social skills and enterprise skills

  1. It’s great to see parent consultation and parent education being such an important tool with which to chip away at the assumptions about what school should look like. We can make very little progress until the learning conversations at home about growth and achievement are informed by and sound a bit like the learning conversations in the school. Do you think that the challenges in parent education will become more complex as the cohorts move into high school, and parents and students are confronted with a hyper-competitive employment and tertiary market?

    1. Hello Greg,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      There will no doubt be challenges with parent education as their children become young adults. The intense media misinformation that ATAR conquers all will need to be tackled head on. One strategy to address this will see us engage with experts to work collaboratively with leaders, teachers and parents so that students develop personalised post school pathways program, commencing with Year 7 next year. It won’t be easy work, nor will it be perfect from the beginning of next year, but we will continue to work on ways which will assist parents understand the best ways for their children to prepare for the “hyper-competitive employment and tertiary market”.

      Regards
      Greg

  2. I noticed at our most recent Parent Teacher Student interviews parents were asking questions around skills and depth of learning and pathways other than university, rather than grades and ATARS. Students want to learn how to learn, and they’re willing to take risks in the process, in order to attain new skills and improve on their learning. We owe them a report which reflects this. This type of reporting responds to this change of focus from both students and their parents.

    1. Hi Trish,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. We are of the belief that the focus on skills and capabilities brings with it a language that makes sense and can be related to future employers, tertiary providers and co-workers. More importantly, coherent understanding of a strengths based approach to skills and capabilities will ensure students know who they and what they can do, far more than a grade and mark does, and this will increase the possibility of healthy wellbeing.

      Regards
      Greg

  3. Hi Greg, breaking new ground and doing it with the specific task of building learner capacity in their own learning is just brilliant. I’m sure the parents will double-down on their trust when they see the leaps and bounds their kids make as they take more and more ownership of the learning. I also like the idea of parent engagement in a genuine way. Most think comms = engagement even when we know it’s not the case. I think your students will appreciate the courage you and your team are showing as leaders of education innovation with a purpose.

  4. It is indeed exciting Greg to see you and your teacher’s and staff deep thinking, planning and organisation come to fruition. The key to it that I see, is how your own pillars are being reflected in the processes you are taking to improve the relevance of reporting for real learning. All key stakeholders are witnesses and integral to the journey.

  5. I am really interested in following your journey in regards to reporting Greg. Two questions that I have initially is what software you are using? It seems to be quite flexible. Also, I am assuming that based on what you wrote last year (https://gregmiller68.com/2016/12/04/__trashed/) that the descriptors change as students move up?
    I look forward to hearing about the feedback from the various stakeholders and where it might go in the future.

    1. Hello Aaron,
      Our Assistant Principal produced the reports for the school. She has confirmed that it was combination of Google Suite and MS Word as well as Google Sheets downloaded to Excel which included a range of drop downs. All this was mail-merged to Word with a bit of coding in the background …
      I hope this makes sense.
      Regards
      Greg

  6. I congratulate St Luke’s on this! The more we report what we see as important, the more the parent community will understand schools are very different today to when they attended. If we don’t address the general capabilities schools are not only setting their students up for failure, though also driving their staff out of a job.
    With the work our diocese is doing with Lyn Sharratt our schools have been asked to collaboratively create a new data wall. Every data wall I have ever encountered is knowledge based, so I have tried to lead the creation of a “Critical & Creative Thinking: Reflecting on Thinking Processes” data wall. It has been met with some hesitation due to the difficulties off assessing a critical thinker. What staff would learn by engaging in this wall, while also presenting what we see as important to our school community I see as invaluable.
    Keep the blogs coming Greg!

  7. Its great to see that teachers at St Lukes employ formative assessments to powerfully impact their students’ learning which was eveident through student led conferences. It is through formative assessment that teachers are are able to diffentiate instruction to target students’ weaknesses and bring them to a place where they should be. But it is great to see that students are a part of the reflection process, recognising how they performed to properly outline a strategy to improve their performance.Speaking as a parent, the innovative reporting style enables the parent to identify the students strengths and through student led conferences, the student was able to identify weaknesses along with their strengths and this creates valuable discussion between the parent and child with the facilitation of the teacher. These conversations continue in the car on the drive home and builds a stronger learning base for the child. Exciting time for a parent to be involved in such a innovate educational institution.

  8. Although the link proved difficult for @profCel to make a comment, I now offer her thoughts via her LinkedIn message.

    The order and space dedicated to feedback on social and enterprise skills clearly communicates how much value the school places on these capabilities, and hopefully for outsiders it challenges or raises questions around the focus of most reporting systems within schools.

    As a teacher I have always found the quantitive data of marks and reports to be shallow and misrepresentative of a student’s actual learning. I find so much more meaningful information in student reflections. The problem is that reflection, self-evaluation and the narratives of learning journals cannot be converted into numerical data, and consequently when reporting I am forced to give D’s and E’s when in actual fact I see strong evidence of what I would define as success: meaningful learning.

    As educators we often preach on the importance of learning from failures, and yet traditional modes of assessment and reporting leave no space for this. Many times students finally grasp a concept or skill after getting it wrong in a test/exam/project. This “failure” is often what makes something “click” in their brain, and is essentially what contributes most to their learning of that concept/skill/topic. And yet it is impossible to “see” that learning in the ‘D’ or ‘E’ that inevitably appears on their report due to the numerical significance of that “failure”.

    Perhaps Student-led Conferences such as the ones proposed by St Luke’s can provide learners the opportunity to articulate all the meaningful learning in such failures as well as communicate in greater depth all the additional learning that cannot be captured in marks and reporting outcomes.

    I like the idea of students having to provide “evidence” of their choices when self-evaluating for the student-led conferences (in the link of the AP’s reflections) as this forces learners to be honest, realistic and critical in their reflections.

    As a parent of primary students, I also find the driving metaphors very useful for understanding the A-E grades, which have changed since my days as a student at school.

    I’m curious to know what your student-led conferences look/sound like and how students are developing and applying their “presentation skills” through this real-life experience.

  9. Hi Greg
    Congratulations on the innovative work you are doing. I enjoyed your most recent post. I like your focus on student input and involvement which I am sure will lead to quality engagement with their learning. We are currently giving thought to self-reported grades/expectations. Students need to be given opportunities and taught to evaluate their own work. Hattie purports that self-reported grades/expectations are the number one positive influence on learning (effect size 1.44).

    Ongoing feedback to both students AND parents must be a focus. Quality feedback is essential and good teachers are able to do this well, at an individual level, consistently. For parents, this can be a challenge; however, in today’s digital world there are a variety of platforms to provide this. I am interested in how you plan to provide ongoing, quality feedback to parents. It can be difficult to to maintain that strong 3 way link required for effective learning: school, student, parent. Not only must we engage students in learning but research points to the importance of engaging parents as well which improves outcomes. Your approach certainly seeks to establish this closer alignment. Traditional semester reporting should not be the only major platforms for feedback.

    Absolutely brilliant to see you reporting on capabilities! As you have often stated, these are essential for our students if they are going to positively contribute both to the workforce and thrive in their own personal lives. Our school has a focus on positive education which is strengths-based and aims to equip students with social-emotional skills. Reporting on these skills is our next challenge so it has been refreshing to read your post – I will be following your work closely!
    Thank you.

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