Ohh, parents! This one’s for you~

Parents- I’m talking to you. What do you want to see on your child’s report card? What type of information do you want their teacher to tell you? And how do you want it reported? In language that you struggle to understand or have to Google? Or in basic/blunt statements- “Your child can read at grade level”? Do you want pages and pages of abstract words trying to define your child with numbers or letters that you barely comprehend? Or would you rather a short synopsis from your child’s teacher describing their academic and social behavior, highs, and lows?

I’m completing my report cards for my kindergarten students and I am frustrated, annoyed, and disappointed. I strongly dislike filling these out for many reasons. I don’t think they accurately portray the child’s strengths and weaknesses, I don’t think it is parent (or even teacher) friendly, and I don’t like the ambiguity and vague nature of the descriptors.

In “The World According to Jenna” (a book that my boyfriend and I hope to write and publish someday- that’s a post for another day), I would grade my kindergartners on the following:

Can they recognize/write their letters?

Do they know letter sounds? (___/___)

Can they recognize sight words? (___/___)

Do they demonstrate the following skills needed to succeed reading at intended grade level?

Use picture to tell a story

1-1 matching

Decoding skills (beginning/middle/end sounds)

Etc…(you get the point)

What level are they currently reading at?

Can they write a sentence?

Can they write multiple sentences?

How high can they count?

Can they count by 5s/10s? (how high?)

Can they recognize #’s 1-20? (can they recognize more?!)

Can they write their numbers?

Can they add within 5?

Can they subtract within 5?

Can they add within 10?

Can they subtract within 10?

…you get my point. The “basics”. And the language- parent friendly, am I right? Currently our report cards say things like “Applies grade-level phonics skills to decode words” and “Writes using basic print concepts.”

To us (teachers), it’s easier to understand- we hear those terms on a more frequent basis and we use those terms when creating goals and providing our administration with information- all because those terms are “correct” and “more professional”. But what about those who don’t know what those terms mean? Does a report card filled with that language appeal to parents who don’t hear that language? And does it even really paint an accurate picture of their child’s abilities?

I’d love to write a paragraph about each child to their parents. That paragraph would be filled with their child’s strengths, sprinkled with a few things they need to work on, and topped with their behaviors and personalities that I see in the classroom. I want the parents to know that I see the whole child. I observe and teach the whole child, not just parts.

I hate filling out report cards. But report card time means conference time; and I love mid year conferences.  I get to shower the parents with their students work, growth, and funny stories. I can explain everything I want to (within a 20min time period) and hope that the parents feel confident in knowing where their child is academically, socially, and emotionally- again, it’s all about the whole child, not just the “school stuff”. 🙂





15 thoughts on “Ohh, parents! This one’s for you~

  1. Colin Davitt says:

    I always hated report cards! As a parent I sometimes look the kids and wonder what it all means.

    We always had to write comments also which wasn’t too easy. Once year I was fed up and just started writing to the student and the words just flowed. I would try to remember something fun we did, commented on what I was proud of and that I looked forward to seeing them in class.


  2. beckymusician says:

    You sound like an awesome teacher! Just the fact that you look forward to parent conferences instead of dreading them puts you in a special category. I teach at an independent school and we were able to create our own report cards with our grade level partners. It was a challenge but we are very happy with them.


    • jsementelli says:

      That sounds awesome! We are currently taking our report card apart and piecing it back together, but it’s the language piece that always makes me frustrated- parents don’t know it and even teachers have to rely on each other for help when it comes to what exactly it is we are looking at in their work. It’s so tricky. I wish we could just explain the goods/bads/strengths/weaknesses. Maybe someday we will all be able to report how we want to!


  3. vanessaw2007 says:

    I teach special education and I hate that I can’t talk about all the strengths they have that have nothing to do with academics. If report cards are supposed to give parents and students information, the standards based language is not quite cutting it.


  4. mkrueger says:

    This post is awesome, I totally agree! I wish our report cards were more parent friendly and even student friendly. It seems like all my students look at is the letter grade, when they are so much more than that. I wish that parents cared less about the report cards and more about the amazing person their child is becoming and the growth they are making!


  5. sallydonnelly11 says:

    Can you start a school and mandate the kind of report card you are talking about and then hire me? I hate report cards, too! SO much!! I love talking to parents. I love showing work. I love writing a comment.


  6. JudyK says:

    You make very good points! Being able to comment on report cards is crucial to giving parents real information. I teach special ed, and do IEP progress reports (as opposed to the regular progress reports that the general ed teachers do) and have opportunities to comment on everything for each student. It’s very time-consuming, but gives lots of good information to parents. ~JudyK


  7. room311news says:

    The quality of information is much more important than the quantity but we are obligated to report specific info. I think parents would much rather have your world!


  8. paulabourque says:

    Hope you have some time during conferences this week to say everything you won’t have time to write! Your students and their parents are lucky to have someone who cares so much that they understand how it’s going. “I observe and teach the whole child, not just parts.” THAT’s THE KEY!!

    Liked by 1 person

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