Three Ways Parents Can Use Progress Reports and Report Cards

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It’s that time of year. Grading periods have closed, and students have come home with either Progress Reports or Report Cards, or possibly even both. As parents, we place the obligatory signature on the piece of paper and hand it back to our students to turn in the next day. We even review the scores and comments and might have a conversation with our child. But how to we actively engage in a conversation with them based on what the document says if we aren’t always certain ourselves? What exactly do these reports show?

Reflection of Student Learning

First and foremost these reports are designed to reflect student learning. At the most basic level, Progress Reports and Report Cards indicate if your child is successfully understanding core content. Alphanumeric grades or pass-fail scores show if your child is meeting the basic passing standard and learning the information.

Measuring the Progress of Academic Achievement

But the reports are not meant to be viewed in isolation. Along with letting you know if your child is meeting the standard, when viewed in succession, they also allow you to determine if your child is making progress. If they have met a standard in previous reports, but suddenly you begin to see lower scores or a significant drop in some area that can be a warning that progress of academic achievement is not occurring. Consistently following the reports of your child’s performance keeps you engaged with the progression of their learning and allows you to identify any areas of concern before they become too large.

Monitoring Student Behaviors

Traditional reports to parents also usually include some sort of area for commenting on student behaviors. Whether those comments are handwritten or typed detailed comments, or remarks that align to a key (for example, 03 might mean organized, 05 dependable, 07 needs improvement), these remarks are invaluable nuggets of information from your child’s teacher. If they have taken the time to write or assign the comment regarding your child, they are important. Read the comments and have conversations with your children. Congratulate them when good things are mentioned and help them work through the difficult. Not only does it keep you aware of what is happening in the classroom, it lets your child know you care deeply about their success and progress.

Progress Reports and Report Cards go beyond a simple accounting of grades and behavior. They provide a wealth of information if we only know how to look at it and talk with our children about what we see. But, we have to be willing to engage actively with our children about the reports.

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