Ah, report cards. Teachers are frantically working to finalize grades, and students are anxiously awaiting the end of this school term—and to their report cards. We are here to offer a few ideas and tips to help everyone survive the chaos that is report card season!
Use an Easy to Understand Grading Scale
The point of a report card is to show the student’s progress clearly and concisely without confusing anyone. The last thing you want is for a parent or student to feel like they need an instruction manual to decipher the information contained on the report card! Incorporating a standard grading scale will make it easy to assess and track the student’s progress.
Consider that not every school uses an A-F grading scale, especially at the elementary level. Many of the attribute/behavior grades use the O/G/S/NI grading scale, and not every family will necessarily understand that particular grading system. An easy to read visual, directly on the report card, that explains each grade will make it so families and students are better able to comprehend the grades.
Control Your Reaction
It’s easy for parents to point out the negative right away. Instead of asking why your student received a C in math, find positives you can acknowledge first. “Wow, you got an A in science, nice work!” or “A B+ in social studies? That’s amazing, I thought you hated social studies!” When your reaction is framed like that, it boosts your student’s self-confidence and allows them to take a step back and see where their strengths and skills are.
For teachers, it’s important to remind students that a letter grade does not define them. Students can be so discouraged by report cards, and sometimes get the impression that the teacher does not like them based on a low grade they receive. Before report cards are generated, it would be beneficial for teachers to talk with their students and explain that grades aren’t given or chosen. Instead, they are earned throughout the course of a quarter/semester by the students themselves. This gives them the mindset that they control their own grades and academic careers.
While it’s true that report cards often do not have enough space to tell a student’s entire body of work for the past quarter/semester, that doesn’t mean report cards can’t be specific. There’s nothing wrong with adding comments to a report card, but “John has had a great semester” fails to communicate the why and how behind his success.
It would be beneficial to be specific about what the student did—or didn’t do—that resulted in the grades reflected on their report card. Maybe they did a particularly good job on an assignment or project. Perhaps they act as a mentor and helpful to other students in the class. Or, maybe he broke out of his shell throughout the course of the semester. These types of comments are helpful to students and their parents. Ultimately, report cards document the development and progress of students through the journey of their academic careers. If teachers have the opportunity to expand on that development through specific comments/examples, this is an opportunity well worth taking.
If you’re a current Sycamore School customer who wants to learn how to make report card season easier, simply submit a support ticket and request access to our report card tutorial in our microlearning library. Not yet a Sycamore customer but want to learn more? Click here to schedule a demo and sign up for a free trial.
The original version of this article was first published on Sycamore School.