Negotiating student characterizations in report card meetings

Jan Berenst, Harrie Mazeland

University of Groningen, The Netherlands

WS172: Discourse in the multicultural school

Teachers in report card meetings discuss the results of their students. The teaching team has to decide about the promotion or demotion of each pupil separately at the end of the school year. During these meetings, other aspects are discussed as well, especially

behavioral components (Cedersund & Svensson 1996, Verkuyten 2000) We analyzed 4 report card meetings in the two schools that participated in the research project. We focused on the question how teachers negotiate pupil characterizations and how this contributes to the accountability of the decisions taken about a pupil.

Discussions about individual pupils permanently move from the description of empirically controllable facts to the ascription of capabilities and traits. The teachers regularly frame factive reports evaluatively and these assessments provide the basis for typifications that are used as a resource for giving explanations and making predictions. Interestingly, the

weight that is given to specific student properties differs from team to team, and, probably,

from school to school. Each teacher team has its own measurement system and we will show in this paper that in their orientation to such norms, teacher teams both index their awareness of the broader institutional context and reproduce its structure.


Cedersund, E. & L. Svensson (1996), 'A 'good' or a 'bad' student: A study of communication in class assessment meetings. Language and education, 10/2-3, pp.132-148.

Verkuyten, M. (2000), School marks and teacheri's accountability to colleagues. Discourse Studies 2, pp. 452-472.

Session: Workshop (part 2)
Discourse in the multicultural school
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 11:00-12:30
room: 16