At the end of the school day today, Kyle handed out his narrative evaluations of each student’s first quarter at LiHigh School. He spent several minutes with them, making sure that they understood and were comfortable with what he wrote about their work these past few months.
What are Narrative Evaluations?
At LiHigh School, we don’t think it’s useful to reduce a child’s studies down to a single letter-grade or numerical grade point. As Stanford Law School argued when it moved away from traditional grades in 2008, “Grades squelch intellectual curiosity.” Grades direct students towards an end goal that has no real bearing on who they are or what they can do. Education becomes chasing the grade, rather than chasing the learning.
Instead of assigning grades, we evaluate our students’ work in real terms: a multipage letter, written by the advisor, directly to the parents and the student.
We evaluate the student in each of the five Learning Goals, and categorize their work into four broad categories: Needs Work, Adequate, Strong, and Very Strong.
The advisor supports this categorization with several paragraphs to help explain where each student is at with the particular Learning Goal and what we can do in the next quarter to help them improve.
The Beginning of a Conversation
Unlike grades, narrative evaluations are not an end-point to learning.
They are the beginning of a conversation between the parents, the student, and the student’s advisor. They are a way to ensure that everyone who has an interest in the student’s education knows how best to proceed.
With the delivery of the narrative evaluations, today marks a big milestone in LiHigh School’s first year! Thank you to everyone who has lent us your support.