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21st Century Report Cards

Jess Tonn

This design contest by GOOD got me thinking about how little information report cards actually report to kids and their families. Honestly, I get more data about my performance when I finish a Scrabble game on my iPad.

Sample 12th grade report card

Photo by Sorcyress, on Flickr

Judging by the report card above, this student is smart. But what this report card doesn't tell you is that (poetic license alert) she's a promising public speaker, as she demonstrated in her defense of Othello in her English class. That she earned extra credit in Calculus by tutoring younger kids in algebra and geometry every week. Or that she impressed her teacher by taking the initiative to write a series of letters from the point of view of a WWI soldier for her final history project, rather than handing in a standard research paper.

I certainly don’t have the design chops to enter the contest, but let me offer my two cents for anyone who does: Take a look at badges. Not only are they visually interesting, but they also offer a way for report cards to capture the types of qualities, experiences and skills that numbers will never bring to life. I'm looking forward to a badge-filled report card of the future.

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