Given the imprecise nature of the language we use to communicate with parents regarding their student's performance, I suggested five steps that schools or teachers can take to improve communication. However, I keep playing this issue over in my head and constantly wonder if there is a better way.
What if we were delivering the results as if we were telling a story or making a movie? Twice a week I work with elementary school students in a film club. We work with these students to transform their ideas in to a story (see the district film festival website here). In film, we use a method called storyboarding to visualize what we want to happen. In a sense teachers or schools could think through this very same process with each student for each step: (1) What is the test, when did your son/daughter take the test, and why the results are important? (2) How your student scored some comparison data (e.g. how did the rest of the state, district, or school score)? (3) How you can support your student to improve or maintain high performance? (4) When the student will test next? (5) What is the best way to contact their teacher to get more information?
Above was my picture for the first scene in the storyboard. Here is my storyboard for the first two images. The metaphor of a storyboard is great because it makes you think through the emotion and imagery that you want to create, just like a great director does with a movie. The storyboard version of talking to parents about students could result in better metaphors and descriptions of the student's actual performance. It is a deliberate method for creating a vision for the parents.