Grading Your Report Card Communication
Vol. 13 No. 3
Report cards: One of the few things that parents are guaranteed to read. It’s a unique opportunity for your teachers to communicate—clearly and authentically—with both students and families. This semester, evaluate your students with more than a letter grade or a percentage; it’s time for teachers to tell families what they really need to know.
Report cards offer a snapshot of a child’s progress at a particular moment in time, but it’s easy for recipients to extrapolate the grades into something bigger than they are. While you and your teachers see the student every day, a parent may only have this single piece of feedback every few months to understand their child’s progress.
It’s important, then, to give parents and students a context in which to view the grades themselves—both before the final grades and on the report card itself. That way, families will rarely be surprised with a report card’s results and will have a deeper understanding of their child’s development.
During the semester:
- Detailed syllabi of topics to be covered in a given period can be paired with a brief summary of each class and distributed to parents. These would include a grading rubric and how overall grades are determined.
- Homework assignments can be made public in easily accessible places like internal message boards, so parents know what’s being taught at any given time. (Plus, students can easily double check assignments this way!)
- If a student consistently struggles in class, a teacher should reach out and alert the parent—before the final grades are released. The teacher would also have ideas for improvement and ways in which the parent can help assist their child.
On the report card:
- Teachers can offer specific praise or suggestions on outstanding grades that are clearly relevant only to that particular student. Avoid pregenerated comments on reporting software!
- If negative feedback is necessary—to explain a poor grade or enhance a student’s performance in “ungradeable” ways like attention or respect—be sure your teachers report facts, not feelings. As an extreme example, “Marc failed to turn in three out of four assignments, resulting in a lower grade” is better than “Marc is lazy and needs to make school a priority.”
- If reporting software does not allow custom comments, ask each teacher to write a brief blurb—maybe three sentences—with detailed, uncanned comments on a student’s classroom performance to enclose with the report card.
Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Division Heads Vol. 8 No. 5 Connect Students to Evaluation with Student-Led Conferences
The Source for School Heads Vol. 13 No. 8 4 Ways to Reach Your Parents
Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 40 No. 2 Consolidate and Coordinate Your Parent Communications
I&P Vol. 40 No. 9 Marketing Communications and the Parent