Writing Report Card Comments: My Experience

The toughest part about report cards are the learning skills and comment sections. Such little space in which to express an individual’s abilities, achievements, and things to improve . . . I waffle back and forth over what to say for various students, trying to figure out whether his Independent Work has been Excellent or Good, or just Satisfactory; whether her Self-Regulation has been overall Needing Improvement or advanced to Satisfactory or Good; why a student whose final mark is 57% also demonstrated good Responsibility or not. 

I weigh the options, going back and forth, adjusting here and there until I think I’ve got the most accurate picture of each pupil’s performance in the course. Sometimes, in the morning, I end up changing a few again. It’s just a cross-section, but I know so many parents will be scrutinizing these things, I can’t be too quick or callous.

It’s the same with the comments. I can fit maybe four sentences in the little box provided. When I first started teaching (fourteen years ago this fall!), the administration wanted us to follow a certain formula, using certain wording from the ministry of education’s guidelines, and I’ve followed that template closely ever since. There have been some changes I’ve seen lately, such as a few years ago when admin requested that we start the comments with an outline of what students had done in the course. So I do that, plus identifying what content or ability from the course he/she needs to improve, and suggesting next steps for improvement. The final report card also has to include the mark that he/she received on the Final Evaluation. 

Once all the marks and comments are done, the last thing that has to happen is printing off a hardcopy for checking over for errors and typos. Colleagues help with that (use a second set of eyes, people!), and once the hardcopy is signed off as ready, the papers are submitted to the office for approval.

So at the moment I’m finishing up the Learning Skills, and in about 15 minutes I’ll hopefully start on the comments. Once I get going on them, I might get them done by 1 am, maybe. Already starting to feel a bit unwell because I’m overtired again. But there’s a dim light at the end of this tunnel. And tomorrow my son is moving out of grade 8 into the next phase of his education. 

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