Effective parent-teacher communication is a cornerstone to effective parent involvement. Each progress report and report card provides an opportunity for teachers to give parents insight into their child’s performance beyond a letter or numerical grade for conduct or academics. Parents want to know how their child is doing, but they also want to know that their teacher gets their child. Report cards also let students learn what they are doing well … as well as areas for improvement.
Teachers can do their part by writing thoughtful, engaging comments. These comments should be accurate, specific, and personal. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to come up with fresh and positive ways of saying things. We’re here to help! We’ve structured the following report card comments for students at every level: emerging, developing, proficient, and extending standards.
Report card comments for students whose skills are emerging:
It’s often difficult to know the cause and effect in these situations, but parents can often help you get to the bottom of it if you notify them. Be specific about areas of difficulty in these comments and don’t be afraid to ask for a parent’s help. Here are some ideas:
- Your student could use some extra practice in [subject]. Please have them study [skill] for [time] each night.
- Your student hasn’t yet had the chance to master [specific skill]. Review sessions are available [time frame].
- Your student may need additional assistance with [skill/subject]. Completing classwork and homework is the first step to improving.
- Your student needs more practice with [specific skill]. Please check that they have completed their homework each evening.
- We will continue focusing on reinforcing your student’s positive efforts.
- Your student should put more effort into [subject area] to avoid incorrect or incomplete assignments.
- Your student would benefit from more active participation in small group activities.
- This semester trimester, I would like your student to work on …
There are some times when a child doesn’t turn in any work to be assessed. This situation is exceptionally difficult to handle with a report card comment and should probably be mentioned ahead of time. Write something positive about the child’s personality while requesting a parent meeting or phone call. Some examples are:
- Your student is always respectful, but I am concerned about their work. When can we meet?
- Your child is inquisitive and engaged in class, but they have quite a bit of missing work. Please call me to discuss some strategies.
- Your child has a wonderful sense of humor/is helpful/is kind but fails to turn in their assignments. Let’s meet to come up with a plan to move forward.
- Let’s work on strategies that will help your student follow through on their assignments.
And sometimes there are behavior problems attached to emerging students. Parents want to know how their child has behaved, even if they are not surprised by the behavior. Behavior can be even more difficult to write about than academics. Be careful to word commentary so that you avoid personal attacks or statements that can make the parent or child feel judged. For difficult behaviors, stick to statistics and/or basic descriptions. Try things like:
- Your student struggles with [DESIRED behavior]. We will continue to work on this behavior at school.
- Your child struggles with [UNDESIRABLE behavior] and needs to focus on [DESIRED behavior].
- When your student is focused, they are a pleasure to have in class. Let’s meet to discuss strategies to keep them on track.
- Your student needs to slow down in order to produce quality/carefully done work.
- Your student has exhibited [UNDESIRABLE behavior]. We will continue to reinforce appropriate behaviors.
- Your student exhibited [UNDESIRABLE behavior] [this many] times this quarter. Let’s work to reduce the incidence of this behavior to [goal] times.
Report card comments for students whose skills are developing:
In instances like these, the key is to focus on the improvement while also providing suggestions to keep the momentum going. Try these comments:
- Your student has come so far in [subject]! Focusing on [important skill] is the next step.
- Your student has made so much progress! They still struggle with [important skill], so that should be our next focus.
- Your child has done well but I am concerned that their lack of [listening/focus/motivation] has contributed to a lower grade than I know they could achieve.
- Let’s work on motivating your student to reach their potential.
- I would like to see pay closer attention to [subject/topic] in order to get a better grade.
- If your student works as hard on [important skill] as they have worked on [improved subject], then they will be caught up in no time!
- The hard work is paying off! Let’s keep it up when we start working on [next skill]!
- Your child is very engaged during whole group [subject instruction] but struggles to work independently.
- When motivated, your child does well on class assignments. We need to extend that motivation further.
- is very engaged during whole group math instruction, but struggles to work independently.
- Your student’s persistence is exemplary.
- Your child has improved significantly but still needs to slow down and check his/her work to make sure that all answers are correct.
- Your student is struggling to understand new concepts in [subject]. Paying closer attention to the assigned reading and class lecture would be beneficial.
- Your child is enthusiastic but still doesn’t understand [topic]. Additional work on these topics would be incredibly helpful.
- Your child requests a great deal of adult assistance when completing school work. Let’s work on encouraging independent work.
Report card comments for students whose skills are proficient:
The key here is to let the parent know all the positives about their child, and perhaps encourage them to go just a little bit further.
- Your student comes to school each day prepared to work hard.
- I appreciate that your student does their best every single day.
- I enjoy how invested your child is in their learning.
- I appreciate your child’s dedication to their studies in my class.
- Not only is your student strong academically, but they are also a leader in the classroom.
- I appreciate that your student is always committed to doing their best.
- Your student understands the material well. Let’s find a way to help them shine.
- Your child has the potential to be at the top of the class.
- With a little more effort, your child could move up to the advanced group in [the subject where effort is lacking].
- Your child puts in great work in [preferred subject]! If they apply those skills to [non-preferred subject], there’s no stopping them.
Report card comments for students whose skills are extending:
Positive behaviors deserve just as much (if not more) attention as negative behaviors. These comments can be the most fun to write. One key feature is making the comment personal. You can begin with a simple stem and then fill in the personal details that will make the parent smile. Example sentence starters are:
- Your child exhibits exceptional focus and diligence in their work.
- Your student is excellent at taking ownership of their learning.
- Your student has a fantastic work ethic.
- Your child is a role model in the classroom.
- Your child exceeds expectations on a regular basis.
- Your student is kind and helpful to everyone in the classroom.
- Your child sets high standards for himself/herself and reaches them.
- Teaching your child is always an adventure! I love it when they …
- Your child makes the classroom a brighter place. They often …
- Your student’s conduct is exemplary. They …
- It is a joy teaching your student! I can always count on …
- Not only is your child a strong student, but they are also a wonderful human being.
- Your child is able to focus and stays on task during independent working times.
- I have enjoyed your child’s sense of humor in our classroom, as well as …
- Your child is a very special student and one that I will never forget. I will miss them next year!
While all of these comments can supplement the information grades on a report card provide, you don’t have to wait to use them. Sending notes home between progress reports and report cards with little comments like these can bolster the parent-teacher relationship. Write them in communication folders or on postcards for that extra school-home connection.