*Note: the tips provided here may only apply to Ontario report cards. Please consult with your child’s school teachers if you have any questions regarding your child’s report card.
With the issuance of report cards right around the corner, today, Kumon Instructor, Caren Cormier, helps parents understand how to fully interpret a student’s report card. Report cards are an important benchmark and measurement of academic progress so learning to interpret the information presented within is key to your child’s success.
Step 1 – Understand Learning Goals
Start by reviewing the first page of the report card which includes learning goals. The six areas you’ll see are: Responsibility, Initiative, Independent Work, Collaboration, Self-Regulation and Organization. Each section is given a rating of N-Needs Improvement, S-Satisfactory, G-Good or E-Excellent. These areas inform parents of what their child's work or study habit levels are vs. what their academic level is. These are the areas to watch closely to ensure a child can focus on areas of weakness which will ultimately improve their academic marks as well.
Step 2 – Read Teacher’s Comments
The key learning skills and work habits that teachers focus on most is the Responsibility and Self-Regulation areas. These areas are aligned with the curriculum and set expectations which are mostly homework driven. A “satisfactory” or “good” rating in these areas may reflect in most of the subjects graded from C to B-. If this is the case, parents will see comments in different subjects starting with "Sometimes...", "Struggles with...", "Has difficulty..." or "Can...". A student who is achieving an “excellent” rating in these areas will see comments like "Easily...", "Always...", "Often..." or "Rarely...". It is also important for parents to look for the words listed above in the overall comments listed under "Strengths/Next Steps for Improvement.” The teacher’s comments inform parents if assignments are completed or handed in on time, what the student's attitude is towards their work and usually lists specific suggestions for next steps for improvement.
Step 3 – Review Individual Subjects
After reviewing the first page of a report card, parents should review the individual subjects, looking at the grade for each learning strand. For example, Math may have a grade for each of the five learning strands (Number Sense and Numeration, Measurement, Geometry and Spatial Sense, Patterning and Algebra and Data Management and Probability) respective of the curriculum covered that year or reporting period. Teachers do not have freedom to write anything they choose but rather work with a computer program that allows them to select comments that would be most appropriate, based on the student's performance. An A/B student grade would see comments starting with "Always...”, “Often...” or “Easily...". A C/D student’s comments will start with "Struggles with...”, “Has difficulty with...”, “With assistance...”, “Rarely completes...” or “Is encouraged to...". As such, even if a student is doing well in one strand, but is having difficulty in another, the comments would belong to those areas where the student should focus on improving.
After understanding all of the comments, parents and students should look together for patterns and trends throughout the report card. This will allow the student to understand what areas she or he is stronger in and what areas can be improved upon. These kinds of trends will also be useful in later years when deciding on courses to take in high school and eventually university.
Do you find report cards to be a drag? Do you think they do a good job of reporting your child’s status in class? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!