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Do Report Cards Matter This Year?

When the coronavirus pandemic shut schools down last March, students’ grades also froze in place. Students eventually switched to online learning, but the school work they submitted during that time did not contribute toward their final report card.

A Different Learning Experience

With social distancing and online learning now part of the way that students learn, school this year is quite different for students!

Considering that a large portion of last year’s learning was left off of end-of-year report cards, and the different learning environment this year, will this year’s report cards capture be able to accurately indicate how students are progressing academically?  

Report Cards Are Important This Year And Every Year

Report cards’ main goal is tracking student academic progress for the school year. The keyword is progress. 

  • Provide Feedback. Report cards often serve as an opportunity for parents to check-in with teachers during parent-teacher conferences.  See Parent-Teacher Conference Tips here.
  • Insights into Learning. For many parents, the most crucial part of the report card is the teacher’s comments. Teachers observe a child’s behavior and learning attitudes in class and share these observations in the comments
  • Predictions of Progress. Report cards provide predictions of how well students are prepared for the next grades’ challenges. Being prepared is especially important in high school; research shows that teens are more concerned about marks as they prepare for college and university and rely on high grades for the university application process.

This year (and every year!) it’s essential to have a report card chat together as a family. The past year has not been like any other; keep in mind that learning results may look a little different as students adapt to the various education circumstances. 

Report Cards Have Limitations

Timelines. All students learn at different paces. If your child doesn’t understand how to multiply fractions by the time the unit is over it does not mean that they will never know-how.  Good or bad, report cards only capture a snapshot of a student’s learning abilities at a moment in time.

Other factors. Capturing a student’s abilities depends on many factors. Some students are good at taking tests and writing essays, and others are not. Others learn better in the morning, some at night. Some are shy and dislike participating in class.

Standardization. Report card standards vary across districts, but on many report cards, teachers select comments from pre-determined options. This can be a limiting way to express how well students are learning. Most students’ abilities are more complex than a report card can communicate.

This Year, Focus on Effort

Real signs of your child’s school progression are evident in many factors not captured by report cards.  Discipline, focus, and work ethic will continue to carry students forward in their education, even if report card grades are low. 

The most important thing to focus on this year in terms of children’s learning success is how much effort children put into their learning.

Are your children:

  • Adapting well to changes such as online learning?
  • Showing enthusiasm about different subjects?
  • Spending any time learning about topics not covered in school?

Shifting the focus to the effort students put into learning will be the driver that helps keep students learning on track, no matter what the school year throws at them.


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