Present practices of reporting to parents in Los Angeles County elementary school districts

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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the School of Education University of Southern California

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Science in Education

hy Carolyn Airy August 1950

UMI Number: EP55646

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£ A ' if / 4 > ^ TA/j thesis, written under the direction of the Chairman of the candidate’s Guidance Committee and approved hy a ll members of the Committee, has been presented to and accepted by the Faculty of the School of Education of the University of Southern California in partial fulfillm e nt of the requirements fo r the degree of Master of Science in Education. D ate.

Dean Guidance Committee





THE P R O B L E M ....................................


Statement of the p r o b l e m ...................


Importance of the study . . .............. .


Definitions of terms u s e d ................... V Conventional marking and reporting


• • • •


Formal marking and reporting General practice


• ........

3 • • • • • • •


New type of r e p o r t i n g .....................




• • • • • ..........................

Methodology • • ...................


Organization of the report...................


REVIEW OF THE L I T E R A T U R E ................ Literature on the origin ofreports to parents

8 8

Literature on reporting practices from 1900 to 1920


Literature on reporting practices from 1920 to 1930


Literature on reporting practices from 1930 to 1940

. . . . . . . . .


Literature on reporting practices from 1940 to 1950 Summary • • • • • .

15 ..........................




REPORTING AND MARKING PRACTICES IN LOS ANGELES C O U N T Y ......................................


Areas of reporting



Cards reporting completely in terms of ehild centered goals



Cards listing academic subjects but report­ ing on items In terms of the child . . .


Cards listing academic subjects which were in turn broken down to show what the sub­ ject included


• • • • • . ............


Cards listing academic subjects only . . .


Cards reporting on academic subjects only with no reference to the development of the child in other areas • • • • • • . .


Attendance • • • • • • • • • • • • * . • •


Title of c a r d ...........................


Methods of recording d e v e l o p m e n t ..........


Number of gradations used

• • • • • • • •


Symbols and descriptive markings • • • • •


Provision for comments by teacher and parent • * • • • • • • » •


Positive statement of descriptive matter •


Frequency of report


• • • • ...............

Style of reporting f o r m ..............

38 38


PAGE Evidence of a formal, fixed report Evidence of recent change


. .


in reporting systems

Summary IV.

40 40



Items are stated in terms of child goals • •


The card is termed a Growth Report . . . . .


Fewer symbols are used to mark the card


. •

Meaningful symbols are used in marking the card • • • • • • • • • • • « • • • • . • •


Departures from formal reporting practices •


Use of other reporting systems • • • • • • •


Extent of use of individual conferences Extent of use of group meetings


. . . . .


Conferencing as a district-wide policy • .


Disadvantages of conferencing

. . . . . .


Report cards abandoned • • • • • • • • • •


Summary V.





Education of teachers and parents for con­ ferences


. . . . . . . . . .

Provision for time to give conferences Increased skill needed

• .

« • • « • * • • • •

59 62 63




PAGE Records n e e d e d .....................


S u m m a r y ................. • ................


S U M M A R Y .............................


Study of the l i t e r a t u r e ............... .. .


General practices in Los Angeles County


• •

Trends in Los AngelesCounty . • • • • • « • C o n f e r e n c e s ............................ C o n c l u s i o n ...........................

73 74 78

B I B L I O G R A P H Y ................... ......................






PAGE Districts and the Number of Schools Repre­ sented which Responded to Questionnaire •


The Date of Adoption

of Report Cards

Broad Areas in Which on Report Cards of


* * * * .


of Present Reporting

System of 67 Districts IV*


Districts and the Number of Schools Repre­ sented in Analysis



• * • * • • * « • • •

Objectives are Stated 60 Districts . * • • • * •

Types of Grades Used on Report Cards of 59



Districts • • • • • • • * * * • • • • • • • • VI*



Terms in Which 60 Report Cards Interpret Grade’s






Questionnaire on Which Study was Based • * • • •


Sample Card Reporting in Terms of Child Centered Goals



Card Listing Subjects but Reporting in Terms of the Child •



Card Showing Content of Academic Subjects


Card Listing Academic Subjects Only


Card Reporting on Academic Subjects Only • • • •


In-service Training Program Introducing

• • .

. . . . . .

32 33

Letter to Parents Explaining New Reporting Practice • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •




Conferences 8.



Questionnaire Used in Preparing New Report­ ing Form • • • • •

......... • • • • • • • • •



Invitation to Parents to Attend a Group Meeting



Letter to Parents Providing for the Individual Conference - Alhambra City Schools • • • • * •


Letter to Parents providing for the Individual Conference - Ranchito School District


• • . •


Letter to Parents Explaining System of Supple­ menting Report Cards with Conferences



Form for Record of Conference

• • • •

. . • • • • • • •

106 106

CHAPTER I THE PROBLEM Reports to parents on the status and progress of the child are traditional with the. public school system*


improve these report has been a constant problem of educa­ tors in recent years*

To show trends as indicated by the

current practices in marking and reporting this comprehen­ sive study of the Los Angeles County elementary schools has been made* I. STATEMENT OP THE PROBLEM Statement of the problem*

It was the purpose of this

study (1) to determine the general practices in reporting and marking in the elementary schools of Los Angeles County; (2) to determine the trends away from formal marking and reporting practices in the elementary schools of Los Angeles County; (3) to determine the extent of use of new reporting practices along with some of the difficulties encountered in their introduction by the experiences in the Alhambra City School System* Importance of the study*

An ever increasing emphasis

is being placed on individual child development as modern scientific knowledge in this field multiplies.


of this is the increasing number of articles appearing in educational periodicals in recent years.

Formal reports to

parents on the status and progress of the child in academic subjects, deportment and in effort marked on a comparative and competitive basis are not consistent with modern educa­ tional knowledge according to Willard C. O l s o n . T h a t we teach the whole child but report only on his academic pro­ gress is patently inconsistent. While this study makes no attempt to evaluate current practices in the light of this knowledge, the importance of the collection of data for such an evaluation is implicit. The data presented provide a basis for interpreting the extent to which Los Angeles County elementary schools are keeping pace with the modern conception of the function of reporting and marking.

The rate of change over to new

reporting forms reflects the importance which is being attached to improving inadequate practices.

To districts

in the process of making a change it is hoped that the material here presented may be useful in indicating sources * of help so that the experiences of others may be shared. This is of particular value in the development of methods of reporting which are departures from conventional practice. IWillard C. Olson, Child Development (Boston: D.G. Heath and Company, 1949), p. 310.

The data, too, offer a basis for comparison between the practices of elementary districts.

Finally the study is of

value as a contribution to educational literature in so far as it adds pertinent information. II. DEFINITIONS OF TERMS USED Conventional marking and reporting*

As used in this

study conventional marking and reporting is described by Wrinkle as: • • . Means evaluating student achievement by the use of a single A B C D F mark or any variation In the kind or number of the symbol and by periodically issuing a report card on which the mark is entered plus the in­ cidental checking of a list of character or personality traits.^ Formal marking and reporting.

The term formal mark­

ing and reporting Is used synonymously with conventional marking and reporting. General practice.

General practice is used in the

sense that the practice prevails In a majority of schools In Los Angeles County. New type of reporting.

Significant departures from

formal marking and reporting are referred to as new type of ^William L. Wrinkle, Improving Marking and Reporting Practices in Elementary and Secondary Schools (New York: Rinehart and Company, Inc., 1947), p. 50.

reporting and may be used as a supplement to the conven­ tional type*

They include parent-teacher conferences,

informal letters and check forms*

In this study manipula­

ting symbols used in marking will not be construed to mean new type reporting*

For example the practice of using a

two point scale in the place of five points is considered as conventional* Trends *

Departures from formal reporting by at

least ten percent of the schools reporting indicate a trend* III.


Basic to this study was the original questionnaire sent to the ninety-three elementary districts in Los Angeles County reproduced on page six*

The report forms which were

received in answer to this questionnaire were tabulated on the basis of (1) symbols used; (2) the periodic regularity of making the reports; and (3) the areas evaluated.


departures from the traditional practice were listed sepa­ rately. Responses were received from seventy-five or eighty and seven tenths percent representing six hundred thirtyfour schools or ninety-four and one tenth percent of the

schools In the county.3

Report cards were received from

sixty districts or sixty-four and five tenths percent of the districts, representing eighty-eight and one tenth percent of the schools in the county.4

A total of one

hundred twenty-nine cards were received.

Only those cards

covering grades four to eight were studied.

Of the cards

received two covered grades one to six; two, grades three to six; twenty, grades four to six; two, grades five to eight; seven, grades four to eight; eight, grades seven to eight; the remaining did not indicate grade levels but were for upper grade* The information obtained from the first item on the questionnaire yielded on analysis the percent of the total number of responding districts making changes in reporting forms within the last five years.

It was assumed that

these changes were made because of inadequacies of the discarded forms.

Investigation was then made of these new

adoptions to determine trends away from conventional mark­ ing and reporting practices. Forms that could not be tabulated fell into the classification of new type reporting.

Answers to items

two and three on the questionnaire appearing on the follow­ ing page provided a clue to the extent conferences were used by individual districts. 5See Table I of Appendix 4See Table II of Appendix

To Elementary School District Administrators: Because of the interest in current trends and prac­ tices in report cards and other methods of reporting, an investigation is being conducted on a county-wide basis to secure such information.

Your cooperation will be greatly

appreciated. Sincerely yours, / s/ Carolyn Airy Reports to Parents on Pupil Progress 1.

When was your present form of report card to parents adopted? ________________ (year)


Do you supplement the report card with:




Individual Parent-teacher conferences?




Parent Group conferences?




Both Individual and Group conferences?





If conferences are used, are they: a.

Optional with the teachers?


Optional with the school within the district? Yes No


District Wide?



Will you please return with this questionnaire forms of your present reports? FIGURE 1 QUESTIONNAIRE ON WHICH STUDY WAS BASED

From materials provided by the Alhambra City System an examination was made of:

(1) problems inherent in the

method of reporting by conferences and in the introduction of conferences to replace report cards and; (2) ways in which these problems have been partially solved. IV*


The remainder of this study is presented in five parts*

The next chapter is devoted to a review of the

literature on reporting and marking including a brief his­ tory of the purposes of reporting*

Chapter III deals with

general reporting and marking practices in Los Angeles County*

These practices were determined by an analysis

and interpretation of the report cards submitted.


IV reviews trends revealed by recent adoptions of reporting forms.

New types of reporting are considered in Chapter V

and the summary is presented In Chapter VI.

CHAPTER II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE In a Master's thesis presented to the Faculty of the University of Southern California in 1944 Viola Moseley hasoutlined the development of the use of the report card in the United States*5

A repetition of this story would add nothing

to the present study.

However a brief resume of the origin

and development of the reporting system is in order. Literature on the origin of reports to parents.


when a record of the progress of the pupil was first kept is not known.

It seems to have come as an outgrowth of the

school register or catalogue which dates back at least to 1801.

Arch 0. Heck quotes from an article indicating the

custom common throughout the period 1801 to 1831,


exercises of the day were usually closed by calling the roll or catalogue of the pupils."6 In 1830 a Committee on Education in Massachusetts stated in a report, signed by Lemuel Shattuck, the chairman, °Viola L. Moseley, "A Comparison of Old and New Prac­ tices in Evaluating and Reporting Pupil Progress in the Elementary School," (unpublished Master’s thesis, the Uni­ versity of California, Los Angeles, 1944). 6Arch 0. Heck, "A Study of Chi Id-Accounting Records," Bureau of Educational Research Monograph N o . 2, Vol. II, (Ohio: Ohio State University, Columbus, November 16, 1925), p. 21, citing American Annals of Education and Instruction. 1:512, November 1831.

that among other things a record of the progress of every scholar would be of great general benefit.7

The register^

devised by Horace Mann for the entire state of Massachusetts in 1826 contained: A space. • .where the teacher can keep, if he pleases, a daily account of mental progress and moral deportment. • . .They [jthe registers^] will enable a parent. • .to trace his progress; and, if skillfully managed by the teacher, they may be made a powerful incentive to good and dissuasive from evil.® In 1863 Superintendent Sill in his annual report to the Detroit Board of Education suggested that there should be devised some system of frequent reports to parents on the scholastic progress of pupils.

That such reports were not

in general use as early as 1889 is indicated by a criticism made by a high school principal of Detroit: The work of monthly reports to parents would be enormous and unnecessary for more important work should be sacrificed by teachers for this drudgery. Parents may assume fair work if no notice to the contrary is given.9 Superintendent Greenwood of Kansas Gity in reporting for the Educational Committee of the National Council in 1889 suggested that: ^American Journal of Education. 1:463, October and November, 1830, cited by Arch 0. Heck, ibid.. p.26 ^Common School Journal. 8:120, April 16, 1846, cited by Arch 0. Heck, ibid.. p.34. 9Mary N. Holland, flCreating Effective Pupil Reports,” Bulletin of National Education Association Department of Elementary School Principals. No.3, 10:363-372, April, 1931.

10 Whenever a child enters school, he should be provided with a blank book, in which should be recorded. • .his scholarship, deportment, and progress. . .This book should be signed by both teacher and parent each term. • • At present there is no method devised for obtaining even a proximate result of character building which is twothirds of school work. Improvements in this direction are more important than percentages and averages figured out by addition, division, and s i l e n c e . ^ That the report or deportment card spread rapidly is indicated by the fact that by the middle nineties the deport­ ment card was in general use.

In 1892 Charles William Eliot,

president of Harvard, speaking before the National Education Association particularly complained of the way in which the system of grading and promotion suppressed rather than took account of individual differences.^ Literature on reporting practices from 1900 to 1920. During the first two

decades of the twentieth century very

little was written on the subject of school marks.

It is

interesting to note that the system of cumulative records devised by Charles Lamprey in 1908 which was widely accepted suggested the following scholarship ratings: 1.- 90$ to 100$ - A or Excellent; 2.- 75$ to 89$ - B or Good; 3.- 60$ to 74$ - C or Passable; 4.-

40$ to 59$ - D or Unsatisfactory; 5.-

Less than 40$ - E or

Very Poor.

^National Educational Association. Proceedings. 1889, p. 433, cited by Arch 0. Heck, op. cit.. p. 53. 13-John S. Brubacher, A History of the Problems of Edu­ cation (New York: Me Graw-Hill Book Company) pp. 398-401.

11 One of the first important experiments showing the disagreement of the judgement of teachers in grading examin­ ation papers was demonstrated hy Daniel Starch and Edward C. Elliott at the University of Wisconsin in 1912 and 1913. The details of this work is so well known that they will not be given here. Harold Rugg writing in the May, 1918 issue of The Elementary School Journal on the same subject called atten­ tion to the variability and unreliability of teachers’ marks and to their inconsistency in distributing them. 13 That the difficulty with report cards had arisen because the reader could not interpret them in their present form with any degree of success was pointed out by J. E. Evans •^ Literature on reporting practices from 1920 to 1950* A study of bibliographies on the subject of reporting to parents for the decade 1920 to 1930 points to an increased interest in the problem. ^ D a n i e l Starch and Edward G. Elliott, "The Reli­ ability of Grading High School Work in Mathmatics," School Review, Vol. 21, pp. 254-259, 1913. 15Harold 0. Rugg, "Teachers’ Marks and the Recon­ struction of the Marking System", Elementary School Journal. Vol. 18, pp. 701-719. e . Evans, "A Concrete Method of Reporting the Rank of Pupils in a Class, ".American School Board Journal. No. 5, (May 1919), 43-44.

12 Trabue In his book, Measuring Results in Education* says: (The purpose of teachers and of school administrators in sending reports to parents is usually to secure more effective parental cooperation with the school. The normal parent wishes to know how his child is progressing, and thinks that the report card tells him something about the child1s success. School officers send the report cards partly to satisfy the curiosity of parents, but chiefly in order that parents may help and encourage pupils to get their lessons well and Hmake a good show­ ing on the report card next month.n3-6 Representative of the research of this period are three studies which attempted to analyze the elements and practices of reporting.

Heer found in a study of seventy-

six report cards in Ohio communities that all of them rated scholarship; seventy rated conduct; thirty, application and ten, health.3*6 In an analysis of practices in grades four to eight In four New Jersey cities John S. Herron found that 85$ of the teachers allowed one-half credit for daily work; that over 50$ allowed extra credit for outside work; that over 50$ graded by letters instead of symbols; and that most of the teachers recognized individual differences.

It was his

conclusion that teachers rate to suit their fancies and that 16Marion Rex Trabue, Measuring Results in Education. (New York: American Book Company, 1924), p. 36. 16A. L. Heer, "Essential Elements of Report Cards," Educational Research Bulletin, Ohio State University, 11: 297-299, November 14, 1923.

13 report card marks reflect teacher opinions and not the work of pupils.17 Homer studied the practices of two hundred twentyfour communities. period of one year. cards monthly.

He found that report cards covered the One-third of the districts issued the

Over one-half of the schools reported only

on general school subjects.

Forty percent used letters

instead of symbols, 14$ used percentages and 4$ used satis­ factory and unsatisfactory*

Seventy-five percent explained

briefly to the parents the report card;

66 2/3$ invited

parents to school and asked for home-school cooperation. Seventy-five percent listed conduct or citizenship; 59.8$ listed effort or industry.

The cards examined listed a

total of six hundred habits and attitudes*1® Literature on reporting practices from 1950 to 1940. The discontent of educators over the practices of reporting to parents from the middle nineties when report cards were in general use until 1930 produced few changes.

The liter­

ature quoted above shows the trend from percentage grades to letters; a reduction of the number of times a year reports were made.

Above all else the complete lack of uniformity

17John S. Hebron, ,fHow Teachers Hate Their Pupils,” Eighth Yearbook, National Education Association, Elementary School Principal* 235-239. ^ F r a n c i s E* Homer, ”A Survey of Elementary School Pupil Report Forms, ”ibid., pp* 218-234.

14 as to what should be reported on was demonstrated. In the four year period of the Education Index from 1929 to 1932 seventy six articles on the general subject of marking systems are listed.

Many of these suggest radical

departure from the traditional report card.

Frederick Rand

Rogers writing in 1933 says: The old pedagogy of force remains in a new and more effective guise; for grades and marks, prizes, honors, medals, degrees and other paraphernalia of extrinsic motivation are devised to perform services which birch whips formerly accomplished. Quite recently, however, progressive educators have led a growing movement away from the traditional marking system. Actual innovations vary from reports of progress in terms of absolute accomplishments to the practical elimination of report cards The innovations referred to may be found in the periodical literature.

The Newton, Massachusetts, Superin­

tendent of Schools, Mr. John Lund reported that Newton had abandoned report cards in 1933.

Teachers sent semi-annual

notes to avoid being unfair, fostering unhealthy competition and to give important knowledge to parents.2^

E. Durland of

Aberdeen, South Dakota, reported in 1936 that the Garfield School in Aberdeen was carrying on an experiment in confer^ F r e derick Rand Rogers, "Education Versus the Mark­ ing System," Education, 54:234-239, December, 1933. 20,,Report Cards Abandoned by Newton Public Schools,fl Journal of Education, 116:452, November, 1933.

15 ence-type reporting based on experiments in Omaha, Germantown and Salt Lake City.2^That the type of record which bridges the gap between school and home should interpret the ideals of the school was pointed out by Mary N. Holland.

She goes on to say that

if the goal is acquisition of subject matter, a card with the names of studies is sufficient.

If the development of

the child1s personality is the goal, qualities which enter into the make up of a complete individual should be given proper consideration. Literature on reporting practices from 1940 to 1950. Arch 0. Heck writing for the 1941 edition of the Encyclopedia of Education Research says: Recent bibliography indicate that many people are interesting themselves in records and reports, but the research contributions of the past two decades have done little more than lay the groundwork for further investi­ gation. Elsbree noted six observable trends in reporting: 1. A trend away from the formal routine card to diagnostic letters and personal notes. 2. Greater emphasis upon reporting the social and emotional development of children. 3. A trend toward reporting pupil progress in terms of the individual’s growth and not in terms of class norms. 21e . Durland and others, wIn Lieu of Report Cards,” Ration1s Schools. 18:27-30, October, 1936. ^Holland, op. pit., p. 370.

16 4. A change from the use of negative statements in reporting, such as "wastes time11 to more constructive comments, such as "needs help in methods of study.11 5. A trend away from monthly to quarterly reports and in many school systems to twice a year or less. 6. Less uniformity within city school systems than formerly and more encouragement for individual schools to experiment with reporting media and to work out their own program of communicating with parents.^3 Similar trends were noted by Ruth Strang who has enumerated seven: 1. The trend away from subject-centered reports and toward pupil-centered reports. 2. The trend toward using more descriptive and anec­ dotal material and interpretive comments to supplement the quantitative data. 3. The trend toward reporting on character and per­ sonality development as well as on academic achievement. 4. The trend away from mere judgment-passing and toward analysis of difficulties and concrete suggestions for improvement. 5. The trend toward the use of letters or conferences with parents as substitutes for report cards or supple­ ments to them. 6. The trend toward emphasizing the individual pupil1s progress rather than comparing it with the achievement of fellow pupils. 7. The trend toward fewer and more significant reports sent when necessary or desirable instead of routine re­ ports sent at frequent, specified intervals.^4 ^ W i l l a r d S. Elsbree, Pupil Progress in the Elementary School, (Practical Suggestions for Teaching, Number 5, Hollis Caswell, Editor, New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1943), p. 86. 24j*uth Strang, Reporting to Parents. (Practical Sug­ gestions for Teaching, Number 10, Hollis Caswell, Editor. New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1947), p.8.

17 That the marking and reporting problem ranks close to the top among those about which most schools and teachers are seriously concerned is noted by William Wrinkle in his report of an experiment in marking and reporting conducted from 1929 to 1939 at the Secondary School of the Campus Research-Laboratory Schools of Colorado State College of Education at Greeley.

He says that changes are not made

because teachers do not know how to improve.

From this

experiment he concludes: The most significant departure from conventional practice which involves the check-form type of report-a new approach to evaluating the achievement and progress of the student--!s beginning to make its appearance. This approach. . .involves identifying the objectives of an educational program in terms of behavior. This is a fundamental departure. Until a sbhool Identifies its objectives clearly, in terms of what it wants boys and girls to do as a result of their school experiences, no form or practice used in reporting can be adequate.*5 That the first step in deciding what to tell parents about their children is to examine the objectives of the school is also emphasized by Elsbree.

Without developing

a philosophy of child growth the primary function of the report card cannot be achieved.

He states this function:

To provide the information necessary for a sound working relationship between these two institutions (the school and the home) in the guidance of the child, is the major purpose of reporting. Other secondary objectives, such as keeping the public informed, developing school 2&William L. Wrinkle, Improving Marking and Reporting Practices. (New York: Rinehart and Company, Incorporated, 1947), p. 30.

18 support, and stimulating teachers to become acquainted with their pupils, are incidental to this function and should never be allowed to obscure the primary objective of the reporting system. One of the obstacles to a radical revision of the report card is teacher and parental resistance.27


of this resistance is shown in a series of articles and editorials in the Los Angeles Times in the spring of 1950. One of these, "Roberta Shows Father Her First Report Card,” says in part: . . . The first intelligence I received from the card was this admonition: "Since children develop in different ways and at dif­ ferent rates, this report is not intended to compare your child with his classmates.11 Well, why not? I want my child compared with her classmates. . .1 know perfectly well the speed and direction of her development, but I have no idea how this compares with other youngsters of the same age and grade. All our lives we are competing with our contemporaries. We are not paid wages according to how well we measure up to our innate capabilities, but according to our relative skills and aptitudes. Why not start to measure these in the first grade? Going on to even more occult categories, the report card lists such items as "being happy and well-adjusted,” "respecting the rights of others" and "using time wisely." Now, that last is a lulul Who ever heard of first graders "using time wisely"? In all these topics one of two conclusions is checked by the teacher: "Satisfactory Growth" or "Capable of Doing Better." If the teacher were candid, she would check the second choice for every topic for every child 2®Eisbree, o p . clt.» pp. 72-73. 2 7 I b i d . , p. 71.

19 in the room. But that, of course, would reflect on her pedagogy. I am quite sure my daughter is "capable of doing better” than she does. • .But the report card shows a perfect score of "Satisfactory Growth." That means in plain English, that she doesnft mind very well. I knew that. But now, even that is *satisfactory•" I ’m glad somebody’s satisfied. • • .Frankly, I would much rather know whether Roberta, my first born, rates an A or an F in reading and drawing and deportment in comparison with my neigh­ b o r 1s kid and all the others.^8 In a news article under the date of July 6th, 1950 Dr. C. G. Trillingham, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools, speaking before the 12th annual School Execu­ tives’ Conference is reported as having defended the new report cards and said: . . .that parents are coming to realize that it is more important to make children secure with what they have instead of resentful with what they l a c k . ^ This survey of the literature on reporting practices would not be complete without reference to two publications of recent date.

The first of these, the Twenty-First Year

Book of the California Elementary School Administrators’ Association, Home and School Work Together for Children contributes a record of the progress of California schools toward more meaningful home-school relationships.


^ R o b e r t T. Hartmann, "Roberta Shows Father Her First Report Card, Column in the Los Angeles Times, June 20, 1950. ^ % e w Article, Los Angeles Times, July 10, 1950.



second is a presentation of a study made in 1948 of report­ ing systems used in Los Angeles County made by the Los Angeles County Research and Guidance Discussion Group•


group studied the reporting systems throughout the United States and in this article presents the group*s thinking regarding them.30 Summary.

Only such literature on reporting to par­

ents as is pertinent to the present study has been included in the preceding sections.

The necessity of understanding

that the report card grew 11like Topsy” is important to this study of the reporting problem so has been included here. The effective use of the first report cards in disciplining pupils made it attractive to teachers and the satisfaction given to parents in learning the status of their children in school made it indispensable. Simultaneous with the origin of the report card came the beginnings of educational psychology which immediately condemned the system as harmful to the development of the whole child.

The present difficulties with the reporting

system stem from knowledge of how the child develops. The literature investigated fell into quite welldefined periods:


The period before 1900 when the report


The period between 1900 and 1920,

'£ -

card originated. , i

3°Sybil Richardson and others, "Los Angeles County Studies Its Report Cards," California Journal of Elementary Education. 18:36-44, August, 1949.

during which time very little was written on the subject* 3.

The period, 1920 to 1930 when the first surveys of

practices were made.

These studies seem to have been

given impetus by the increased knowledge of psychology immediately after the first World War.


The period

1930 to 1940 when the first tentative radical changes in reporting were first made the subject of experimentation. 5.

The period between 1940 and 1950 brought clarification

of the problem and a continuation of experimentation with new forms. This survey has attempted to trace the trends and the attitudes of educators Interesting themselves in the problem over the last fifty years in order that the progress in practices and the trends in Los Angeles County may be more clearly indicated.

CHAPTER III REPORTING AND MARKING PRACTICES IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY Current practices in marking and reporting in Los Angeles County determined by an analysis of 60 report cards from as many districts will be considered in the present chapter*

Those practices having a particular bearing on

the trends indicated by Elsbree®! and Strang32 were given primary consideration*

In addition to the analysis of the

report cards the result of the first items on the question­ naire*^® was introduced at this point:

When was your present

report card to parents adopted? Data from this analysis pertinent to the indication of practice were secured on: 1.

Areas of reporting*


Methods of recording development.

® % i l l a r d S. Elsbree, Pupil Progress in the Elemen­ tary School. (Practical Suggestions for Teaching. Number 5, Hollis Caswell, Editor. New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1943), p. 86* S^Ruth Strang, Reporting to Parents. (Practical Sug­ gestions for Teaching, Number 10, Hollis Caswell, Editor. New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1947), p. 8 33Gf. ante.. p. 6.

23 3.

Frequency of report*


Style of reporting forms*


Evidence of recent change in reporting systems* I.


Five classes of reports were identified by the areas in which the reports were m a d e : ^ 1*

Those reporting on specific child goals using

interpretative comment and eliminating the usual academic classification of subjects. 2.

Those reporting on academic subjects which in

turn were

broken down into items interpreted in terms of

the child and including similar reports on social and emo­ tional development. 3.

Those reporting on academic subjects which were

broken down to show what the subject included and a report of social and emotional development* 4.

Those reporting on academic subjects with no

accompanying explanation but reporting social and emotional development. 5.

Those reporting only on academic subjects.

Cards reporting completely in terms of child centered goals.

Pour cards of the sixty studied or 6.6$ stated all 34See Table IV of Appendix.

24 Items In terms of the child.

Two reported on "Skills and

Knowledge" and two on "Learning Skills and Increasing Understanding."

Typical Items reported on included:

Shows increased understanding of our own and other civilizations. Is learning to evaluate and Interpret facts. Writes plainly. Uses fundamental processes in arithmetic accurately. Shows Interest In reading good books. Spells words correctly In written work* Heads with reasonable speed. Expresses Ideas well in writing. The number of Itans reported on In this section Is respectively 16, 19 and 21 on the three cards* The social and emotional development of the child made up the first section of each of these three cards. The headings used were:

Growth in Individual and Group

Living; Health Habits (Physical and Mental), Social Habits, Work Habits; Keeping Healthy In Body and Mind, Getting Along at School and Forming Good Habits of Work.


items reported on under these headings: Gets along well with other children. Keeps neat and clean. Helps others and respects their rights. Observes good health habits.

25 Shows evidence of sufficient rest and nutritious food. Shows initiative. Gets down to work quickly. Is careful of school property. Follows directions. A sample of this type of card may he found on the following page, Figure 2. Cards listing academic subjects but reporting on items in terms of the child.

Nineteen cards or 31.6$ of those

studied listed academic subjects but interpreted goals in these subjects in terms of child goals. listed on all cards were: and Arithmetic. listed variously:

Academic subjects

Social Studies, Heading, Language,

Aside from these basic subjects the cards Literature, 2; Writing, 12; Spelling, 12;

Music, 14; Art, 13; Physical Education, 12; Health, 6; Cook­ ing and Sewing, 1; Wood Shop, 4; Science, 5.

In each case

where these subjects were not specifically listed, they were included under a more general heading.

For example, one

card listed “Aesthetics” under which was “Participates in good music.”

Items reported on varied from 17 to 35.

There was no uniformity in items reporting on social and emotional development.

Listed were from 7 to 32 des­

criptive objectives tinder the various headings:



S atisfactory

D oing of

G row th

T h ir d R eport

C apable

G row th

B etter

S atisfactory

T h ir d R eport

D oing

S atisfactory

Second R eport


F irst R eport


C apable

G row th


B etter

S econd R eport

F ir s t

T his class has been studying a unit of work on:

w W O

g o Q

Ph O

3 CQ

3. Applies science learnings in daily life____________________ COMMENTS (to bo dated and signed)

uAiig u a g e 1. Speaks clearly and intorestir?/giy.i 2. Listens attentively 3. Has reading skills Reads f o r pleasure Reads for information 3* Writes legibly and with reason*" able speed 7• Spells words- needed inwritten^work 3. Expresses himself through creative" writing, dramatic art and oral interpretation C0M?,1ENTS (to be dated and signed;

ART AND MUSIC 1. Contributes his talents as needed2. Appreciates art in surroundings and dress 3. Tries to express his ideas with . various materials Learns art techniques as needed 5» Enjoys singing__________________ ~ 6. Participates in group music___ 7. Appreciates music COlv.IvIENTS (to be dated a nd signed ) (space for comments wil} be


j I i f | T

n'- r'

, i|.t

29 Nature Study; Manual Training and Household Arts# Nine of this group reported on social and emotional development of the child in the same manner as the two preceding groups, in terms of the goals of the child.


is* the item was stated as, "Accepts Responsibility", etc. Seven to 27 separate items in this field were listed on these cards.

Eight listed desirable qualities such as self-

control, industry, etc.

Six to 15 items were mentioned.

One of these reports provides for the underlining of the proper word in the statement, "His progress in conduct and social adjustment is generally commendable, satisfactory, unsatisfactory." Typical of this group is the illustration shown in Figure 4 on the following page. Cards listing academic subjects only.

Fourteen cards

or 23.3$ of those studied listed academic subjects only. typical listing in this group was:


Arithmetic, Social

Studies, Physical Education, Literature, Art, Heading, English, Homemaking, Woodcraft, Spelling, Writing, Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Science. Of these fourteen, three report on from six to ten items on social and emotional development in terms of the child.

That is the item is stated, for example, as, "Resp­

onds to requests," "Is Courteous," etc.

Eleven of the cards

This class has been studying a unit of w ork on 1st Report................................. 2nd Report............................... 3rd Report................................ 4th Report................................

First Report

Second Report

Third Report

Fourth Report

> tc ae a. _ ae . C i w 11 O U.1 H h t t oh £ ° O h z o Ot- z h-O_ O hh Li mu < X J 1JO “l *ix ^ ID Ui > h _______ time


104 RANCHITO SCHOOL DISTRICT Pico, California Dear Mr* and Mrs*_________


We are scheduling a conference to report to you, your child’s growth and achievement in school* Your appointment for the conference is ________ (day)

. ____________ at_______ o ’clock* (date)

We hope this time will prove satisfactory to you. Please complete the form below and return it to school by your child. Thank you. Sincerely yours,

(Please detach and send to school) _______ I will be able to keep the appointment. _______ I will not be able to come at this time. (Note: Please indicate below a more convenient time, if the time scheduled is not convenient.)


105 RANCHITO SCHOOL DISTRICT February 15, 1950 Dear Parents: Earlier in the year we wrote telling you of our study of conference reporting. We asked for and received your cooperation in delaying con­ ferences until our study was completed. Our aim is to do a better and more thorough job of reporting your child’s growth and achieve­ ment in school. We hope the conference will not only give you a better understanding of the school’s program, but that you will have information of value to share with the teacher about your child. Our study has resulted in the coordination of the various conference reporting systems used in the three schools of this district in the past. The plan developed is to schedule individual conferences early in the year; issue reports in February, schedule conferences at the end of the third quarter and issue reports again in June. Since our earlier conferences were delayed until the completion of our study, we plan to schedule conferences this month and to issue the report cards at the same time. Morning primary teachers will schedule conferences in the afternoon; afternoon teachers will schedule conferences In the morning. Teachers will make every effort to schedule conferences at a convenient time for you. You will receive notification of a conference appointment in the near future. Again, let us express our appreciation for your interest and cooperation in our plans. Sincerely, Superintendent Teacher FIGURE 13 LETTER TO PARENTS EXPLAINING SYSTEM OF SUPPLEMENTING REPORT CARDS WITH CONFERENCES

RANCHITO SCHOOL DISTRICT Conference Summary Sheet Date__ School Name____________________________ -I.



Attitudes and Interests

III. Physical Growth



Social and Emotional