- Julie Nariman, founding principal of the High School of Language and Innovation, which began in the Bronx in 2011, shared with Edutopia how teachers at her school changed the way grades were reported and distributed in an effort to build metacognition, foster growth, and help students better understand how their own actions impacted their grades.
- The school began to hold report card assemblies organized by grade level in order to build a sense of working together toward the goal of graduation. At these assemblies, teachers highlight success stories and have students write self-reflections about the actions that prompted them to earn those grades and the goals they have for the next grading period.
- The school also changed the way grades were framed to reflect a growth mindset, shifting to a system that reports grades as honors (90–100 percent), passing (75–89 percent), borderline (65–74 percent), and not passing yet (below 65 percent). The school has seen marked improvement in grades, state test scores and number of high school credits earned.
As odd as it may seem to teachers and administrators, some students see grades as something that happens to them rather than as something that they earn. Employing metacognitive reflections with students to help them make the connections between their own study habits and the grades they receive may help some students change their habits and improve their grades.
However, this effort may require personal conferences with students who are barely passing to make sure they make the right assumptions about these links. The use of report card assemblies as a way to highlight the importance of grade reports can also allow school administrators a chance to connect with students at these important milestones and encourage their progress along the way.
Developing metacognition, the ability to reflect on the way one thinks and learns, is an important skill for students to develop in any case because the benefits extend beyond the classroom. Using metacognition in the classroom is another example of how neuroscience is impacting education. Though metacognition is not strictly a social-emotional skill, it is closely linked because it requires the ability to self-reflect and regulate one’s own behavior. Some school districts are beginning to include these soft skills on report cards and others are establishing “brain labs” to allow students to develop metacognition and social-emotional skills.