I come from a simpler time--when all the comments a teacher might practically want could fit on a single piece of paper. Now, teachers can contemplate 859 comments for high-school students. There must be a thousand more for the lower grades, given my high-school list picks up about where Arabian Nights left off, at 1001.
I shrunk the list last year to pull out the comments I might use. There's comment 1003, signifying lateness, and 1006, signifying excessive absence. After all, does it matter how effective or ineffective I am, if a student shows up only sporadically? Perhaps, in this day and age, when our students can so easily take us down through VAM, we need the comment, "Attend class more, if you ever want to see your teacher professionally alive again!"
I also favor comment 1066, signifying a serious issue with homework. I can effectively peruse every student's paper which crosses my desk, but if a student fails to do the work, voila, I'm on my way towards being highly ineffective! How 'bout the following ed. deformity comment, "Try doing some homework, or your teacher may lose her job at work and her home!"
Unfortunately, I also use comment 1063 too much, signifying low test scores. I wish it said instead, "Try studying more. If you go down, you'll take your hard-working teacher with you!" I try to include some positive comments upon occasion. There's 1062, signifying excellent scores as well as 1040, signifying improvement. These comments not only give a student hope, they give a teacher hope as well.
I've searched high and low for some of the old comments, but come up empty handed. I miss the old comment #14, or "Has ability to do better." I could fail somebody, but not totally discourage him or her. No more, it seems. I also miss comment #34, or excessive cutting. Today, I must substitute "excessive absence." There's quite a difference between "excessive absence" (defined as "more than 2 days/month") which a student may argue is legitimate and cutting, which is not.
The new set of comments are organized according to application or subject area. Some are classified as "Behavioral," "Academic: General," ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, Health, Physical Education, Technology, Foreign Language, ESL, "Native/Second Language," Dance, Music, Theater and Visual Arts. I am tempted to steal comments from other disciplines just to break up the monotony and give my students something more to contemplate. How about: "Demonstrates limited knowledge of dance elements and concepts," #1819. (More schools should only be so lucky as to fund dance programs in this day and age.)
For my own discipline, I can choose from comments 1566 to 1613. Have I ever used any of these? No. None of them sound like my voice. Do I think I will ever use them? Probably not. Almost every concept is preceded by "exceeds," "meets," approaching" or "far below standards." Then, there is some long-winded conclusion.
Here is one example: "Far below standards in evaluating reasoning in important us texts, including application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning." Do you know the funny thing about it? Anyone who is far below standards "in evaluating reasoning in important us texts, including application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning" probably hasn't much of an idea what that comment means. Besides, in most instances, all I really want to say is "Try doing some homework" or "You will do better as you learn more English."
So, offer me a couple thousand comment codes and I will still embrace my handful. I will also lament the passing of some of my old favorites in this new, Common-Core-aligned world of codes to bake the brains. Why would I wish this upon anyone, especially someone who only speaks English as a second or third language or a third grader? Sometimes, I wish we could just use the old comment codes. But, alas, this is someone's idea of progress. Sound the Pibroch. (Make that comment code 1860!)