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How To:

How to Home
How To: Adjust Your Teaching Styles to Students' Learning Styles
How To: Develop as a Professional
How To: Implement Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment
Report Card Resources
Report Card Comments How to Complete Report Card Comments
Writing Report Cards Report Card Comments Samples
Report Cards for Middle School
Completing End of Term Procedures

Writing Report Card Comments Julie Dermody

Finding just the right words to write on report cards is an important but not easy task. Some teachers (mostly middle and high school) use computerized comments, so this may not be a dilemma for everyone. But for the majority of elementary teachers, the challenge of writing concise, personal, and informative comments is one that creates insecurity. Describing what and how individual students are learning is every teacher's job, but there are often very few resources available to help new teachers with this essential task.

Help is available in the form of fellow teachers, books, and the Internet. Having generic comments to look at is extremely helpful and will give you ideas as you start, so you can personalize your comments. First, check your school's policy and expectations on report card comments. It may be helpful to look at comments written by the former teachers of the students you currently have (these comments are usually confidential and schools have different policies regarding them (e.g., keeping them locked in a special room, or having to sign them out if you want to look at them outside the "cumulative file room.")

Parents appreciate comments specific to their child. A comment such as "I was delighted to see that Robby went the "extra mile" on his map project by placing latitude and longitude degree markers on his map," is much more meaningful than "great map project." Personalized comments require you to keep track of student work and projects throughout the quarter. Keeping current anecdotal records on each student helps tremendously when you write your comments. It is also helpful to have your students write goals for themselves each quarter. I use these goals (which the parents receive a copy of) to aid in my comments as well. "I can tell that Neil is working on his oral presentation skills. He seems much more confident and has improved his eye contact with the audience."

Report card comments can further explain the grades a student receives. For example, a student may be working very hard in a certain area, yet not be proficient for his grade level. A top grade would be misleading to parents, yet the student is working very hard. In cases like this, it would be helpful to check on your school's policy for grading non-proficient students. There may be an area on the report card to list the current academic level or to assign a separate grade for effort under the content area grade.

Several publishers have books available that provide report card samples. Scholastic's Writing Effective Report Card Comments (ISBN 0-590-06882-2), by Susan Shafer is an excellent source. Troll Teacher Ideas has published Teachers' Messages and Notes Home (ISBN 0-8167-3277-9), by Laurie Steding, which includes forms that you can use throughout the year. Fearon's Teachers' Messages for Report Cards (ISBN 0-82246-777-1) by Marie McDonald breaks down comments into such areas as behavior problems, improvement and growth, poor attendance and tardiness. Well-Chosen Words : Narrative Assessments and Report Card Comments (ISBN 1-57110-080-6) by Brenda Miller Power and Kelly Chandler will be an invaluable aid if you write narrative assessments for many students, need help in choosing the right format for reporting information, or if you need guidance in how to compile and use classroom anecdotes in your assessments.

These books can be ordered from any bookstore using the ISBN number (if you order from Barnes and Noble you can use your teacher discount of 20%.) One helpful Internet report card comment source is http://geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/7603/report_card.html

You may also look at the attachment to this "How To" for sample report card comments.

Start thinking of comments you would like to express early. It may be helpful to write them down (you will appreciate your advance efforts when the report card deadline approaches!) As you organize your comments be sure to start on a positive note (and continue in an encouraging, yet truthful manner.)

 

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