How can the report card be used to drive improvement, even if your child is meeting or exceeding expectations?

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It’s report card time!

Which means it’s the perfect time for reflection and planning. At this time of the year, parents should be able to look back and list the things that were learned in each subject, as well as what areas could use some improvement or enrichment. In fact, your children should be the ones to tell you.  As a parent, you know your child the best. 

Go ahead and make one. We’ll wait.

Are you finished? Great! Let’s get started.

Understanding the report card

Girl sitting at her desk at school while looking at her report card

Are you pleased with this list?  Do you think there could have been more items in the “learned” column?

If you’re having trouble interpreting this list, an effective strategy for determining the overall achievement of your child is to colour-code the report card.   

  • Use one colour for areas where your child has met the expectations
  • Use one colour for areas that exceeded expectations
  • Use one colour for areas of concern.

If you are having an interview with your child’s teacher, bring the Report Card with you and be familiar with it.  Prioritize what you want to discuss and stay focused. Ask direct questions. Based on your analysis of the report card, these are questions you should be asking:


For students not meeting expectations: What can you do at home to support what is being done at school?

  • What strategies has the teacher used to help improve achievement?
  • Do changes need to be made to the level of the curriculum?
  • Is it a problem related to Learning Skills (Not being prepared? Not being attentive?)
  • Is your child sitting in the correct place to optimize listening and attention?
  • In what ways does your child demonstrate learning?
  • Does your child require extra time to complete tasks?  Do they receive it?

For students meeting expectations: What can you do at home to support what is being done at school?

  • How will the teacher “stretch” their thinking?
  • Can your child demonstrate achievement in multiple ways? (i.e. “How else can you explain that? What is another strategy that you can use?”)

    Educational Consultants Ann and Karen Wolff at Children Support SOlutions

    Learn more about the authors of this article, Educational Consultant Team Ann and Karen Wolff

  • Is your child reading a variety of genres? Is the teacher monitoring independent reading and encouraging variety?
  • How is your child responding to literature? Are they able to answer questions that require inferencing and evaluative skills
  • Are they able to use a variety of math problem-solving strategies?

For students exceeding expectations: What can you do at home to support what is being done at school?

  • Are they being encouraged to “think outside the box?”
  • Are they able to provide responses using a variety of methods (i.e. pencil/paper, oral presentation, computer generated, group and individual)
  • Are they developing critical thinking skills?  Can they ask (and answer) questions that require reflection and opinion
  • Can they transfer knowledge to the real world?

If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP)

If your child has an IEP, it must be reviewed now. Here are some things to consider:

  • Firstly, is it working?
  • Is your child meeting or progressing toward meeting expectations?
  • Is it a modified program or is your child receiving accommodations?
  • If the program is modified, do the expectations need to be revised?

It’s never too early for your child to learn how to advocate for themselves.  Your childshould know what they’re good at, and the areas they struggle with. (They will know that without you telling them). Remind them that they are part of a “team” and each member (teachers, parents, students) has a responsibility.

If appropriate, your child should always be part of the meetings that involve IEP’s.  They are the ones to provide the most valuable insight into what is working and what is not.


Study the Report Card and understand it.  Use the information to make a plan; choosing specific strategies that will provide the greatest opportunity for your child to be successful. Don’t let time pass and get to June and then say, “What did my child learn this year?”  That should be an ongoing question, one that has specific answers.

Until our next lesson…

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