Writing report card comments for the end of the year can seem challenging. By this time, you’ve likely completed three rounds and may be running out of things to say. Don’t let this get you down; following this simple plan can help you power through.
The Importance of Report Cards
End-of-year report cards come at a stressful time. In addition to all the other end-of-year hype, teachers need to write an accurate and objective account of how a student performed, not only the past quarter but also for the year. Report card comments have the added pressure of communicating with parents about their most precious resource, their child. Look at this as a chance to do three things:
- Communicate to the parent how the child has done
- Set a record for the following year
- Give advice to the student and family about how to use the summer to keep the learning going
How Are These Comments Different?
During the year, you wrote comments reflective of the specific time – a quarter, trimester, or semester. With these direct parameters, you gave positive feedback, set a goal, and told how you’d structure support. Now, at the end of the year, that formula doesn’t apply. End-of-the-year comments have a different slant. You still need to communicate how the student did for the last quarter and, perhaps, semester, but you also need to include comments that will offer advice on how to continue the momentum you instilled this year. Let’s take a look at the three strands for end-of-year comments.
Areas of Specific Focus
End of the year report card comments have specific focus in three areas – reporting student strength and struggles, ways to grow in the future, and suggestions for help over the summer.
Strengths and Struggles
The first portion of your comments should focus on reporting how the student performed in relation to specific objectives. Remain objective and use the standard to drive the comment. For example:
- Olivia is able to compare and contrast important details in text.
- Ben is showing progress towards comparing and contrasting important details in text, but has not yet mastered the skill.
- Luke continued to struggle with the concept of comparing and contrasting important details in text.
Making the objective the center of the statement takes judgment out of the comment and allows the parent to view the task as the focus, not the child. Also, using this technique clearly communicates exactly where the student is in relation to the objective.
Ways to Grow
On past report cards, you’ve had a chance to set goals and offer support for the remainder of the year. Now with students moving on to another grade and teacher, you’ll need to offer parents ways for the student to continue to grow without you.
- When reading with Olivia, ask questions that prompt her to identify the main characters and setting.
- Help Ben with money concepts by letting him count change at the end of shopping trips.
- Be sure to challenge Luke by checking out novels from the library.
Remember, parents aren’t experts. Be specific with your suggestions.
Finally, combat the backslide students often encounter over the summer by offering specific programs and opportunities for those students in need.
- Olivia should plan on attending a program over the summer focusing on increasing her sight word vocabulary.
- Ben would benefit from tutoring sessions for math, specifically in algebraic reasoning.
- To prepare Luke for full-day school, he should spend several days a week outside the home.
If you’re not sure about programs in your area, reach out and ask a seasoned teacher, the local library, or a social worker.
Remember, the purpose of report card comments is to communicate to parents and make sure the information you’re recording is available to future teachers. You’ll need to keep a few things in mind as you write your comments.
For starters, always open with a positive comment that communicates how much you know and care for the student. Next, when writing about academic or behavioral achievement, remain objective and use evidence to support statements. Finally, end on a positive note by telling the student and parent something specific you’re proud of.
Avoid standard end-of-year comments, such as ‘It was a joy to get to know you,’ or ‘Have a great summer.’ They’re tempting to write, but overused. Families want sincere evidence you know and care for their child. It may take a little longer to be specific, but it will be more reflective of your year to take the time to create unique comments.
End-of-year report card comments come at a busy time. Follow a simple 3-step process to make sure you say what is necessary to communicate to parents and record the student’s success and struggles. Offer suggestions on ways to grow and ideas on how to improve over the summer. Finally, show how much you care with unique comments for each student.
It’s tempting to rush through end-of-year comments and focus on the summer ahead, but resist the urge. Think of how valuable report cards and the comments you write are to families. Many treasure and keep them a lifetime, so take a breath, take your time, and write. Summer will be there when you’re finished.
Having fully grasped this lesson’s message, test your ability to:
- Convey the importance of end-of-year report card comments
- Compare end-of-year and quarterly reports
- Emphasize areas of focus in these reports
- Adhere to suggestions for properly formatting these comments