A new report by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) found that Australian schools, “with few exceptions”, are only providing parents with information on student performance, not progress.

“This singular focus on grades and scores can leave parents with little insight into their child’s learning growth and can be demotivating for students,” ACER researcher Dr Hilary Hollingsworth said.

Under the Australian Education Regulation 2013, schools are required to give parents “an accurate and objective assessment of [a] student’s progress and achievement”, including by comparison to any available national standards and relative to the student’s peer group.

ACER’s report recommends that schools and systems should reform reporting practice so that student progress in relation to “the typical pathway of learning” and against expectations is explicitly communicated in end of semester reports.

The report also found that the end of semester reporting process places significant pressure on teachers and that parents express “significant dissatisfaction” with the timing and frequency of student reports.

The report recommends that school reporting systems should be continuous and aligned with the assessment cycle.

“Online management systems typically enable teachers to continuously report on student achievement throughout the school year, providing parents with information closer to the point of assessment. This is prompting some schools to reconsider the purpose and format of end of semester reports,” Hollingsworth said.

“Many schools already use continuous reporting alongside written reports, parent-teacher interviews and portfolios as part of their broader approach to communicating student learning progress, but few have aligned the distinct but complementary role of these different forms of communication.”