10 Tips to Writing Effective Report Card Comments
1. Make comments easy to understand for students and parents
As simple as this may seem, we often forget who our audience is (We sometimes write comments to appease our admin), and we need to develop comments that are meaningful for both parents and students alike.
2. Communicate often with parents
Make it a regular part of your day to fill out agendas, call home when necessary and keep your website/online calendar up to date. Regular and ongoing communication with parents helps avoid surprises at report card time. Parents should be well-aware of their child’s performance and behaviour in your class, and the report card should only serve to provide a summary of this achievement.
3. Don’t use teacher talk or edubabble
If non-teachers can’t understand it…don’t write it. Report card comments need to be written in parent-friendly language and should always avoid the use of pedagogical terms. We are trying to convey information to help parents and students, not confuse them.
4. Avoid highly detailed curriculum descriptions
This is especially important when you write subject-specific comments. Subject comments should convey a student’s grasp of academic content. They should not be a simple restatement of curriculum expectations with a qualifier.
5. Support your comments with evidence from the past term
To ensure that your report card comments are personal, supply evidence and examples from the past term to support your point. This will not only help parents and students make connections to their learning, it will help them determine next steps for improvement. A good practice is keeping anecdotal observations and track learning skills throughout the term (We provide resources to our subscribers for this).
6. Focus more on the positive aspects of student work and behaviour
While it’s often easy to pick out the negative aspects of a student’s behaviour, parents should already be aware of this behaviour in advance of report card time. Use the report card as a platform to highlight the positive aspects of each student in your class. If you struggle with writing positive comments for certain students, focus on providing constructive feedback to support their learning and behaviour needs.
7. Start with the easy comments first
It’s always best to write the easiest comments first. These are often the reliable comments you have used from term to term that you don’t need to think about. Don’t get stuck spending too much time on the difficult comments. You can either come back to them later, or use a program like Student Evaluator to generate the comments for you. How much is your time worth?
8. Collaborate with your peers
To get a better grasp on a student’s behaviour and learning skills, talk to other teachers that work with the student from other subjects. Some report card programs allow rotary teachers to input this information about your students, but you may find that other teachers have the insights you’re looking for as you struggle to create your report card comments.
9. Provide specific recommendations for improvement
When thinking about a student’s academic needs, or areas for improvement, suggest concrete ways in which to make those improvements. These could include strategies, interventions, approaches and activities that provide an individual and best practices approach for improvement.
10. Think critically about each learning skill…don’t generalize!
It is very easy to get caught in the trap of simply generalizing a mark for learning skills based on the title of the Learning Skill. For instance, if a student has a disorganized desk, you may be apt to assume that they need to improve in their Organization learning skill. Instead, think of all aspects of Organization before jumping to conclusions. Our program will ask you 3 questions for each Learning Skill to ensure that you are critically thinking about, and assessing the skill objectively.