For students, school progress reports can be a source of pride or something that they dread. For parents, the feelings are much the same. Progress reports vary a bit from school to school, but all are designed for the same purpose--to help both students and their parents assess the child's academic progress. Here are a few guidelines for interpreting a student progress report:
- Most schools issue progress reports for students at least four times each year. Some go a step further and send home "mini" reports between the official grading periods so that parents and students have a good idea about the direction that the grades are going. This can be especially helpful for students who are struggling since it gives them extra time to turn a grade around before it becomes permanent and factors into the student's grade point average (GPA).
- Almost without exception, student progress reports include a key to help explain the terms on the report. If you are uncertain about the terminology, look for the key to help explain the specifics of your school's reporting system.
- Grades do matter, but the most important factor in judging your child's performance is progress. All of us have our strengths and weaknesses, children included. It is important to look not for perfection, but for effort and improvement.
- Many student progress reports have an open section where the teacher can include comments about your child's academic and social situation at school. Often, this area is the most helpful part of the report. Rather than an impersonal checklist, this area allows the teacher to focus on the specific achievements and needs of each individual student.
- Your child's teacher is your partner in assuring that your child makes consistent academic advancements. If after looking over the progress report, you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact the teacher to schedule a conference. Most teachers are grateful to have the support of involved parents, so rather than worry that your child is struggling, place a call to the teacher.
- If you notice a decline in your child's grades, it is important to determine the reasons and act quickly to help her get back on track. Take the time to discuss your child's concerns about her schoolwork with her, and help her to find solutions. Is she devoting enough effort to her studies or has she been distracted by social or other obligations? Is the material becoming more difficult? Is she having trouble keeping up?
- Many schools offer free or inexpensive tutoring. If your child's progress report suggests that he is having a hard time with one or more subjects, it may be wise to consider making arrangements for a little extra help. Sometimes just a few months of individualized tutoring can help a child to get caught up with his peers.
- Finally, assure your child that as long as she is truly giving her schoolwork her best effort, you will be satisfied, no matter what the progress reports say. Academic excellence is something worth striving for, but it is more important for your child to know that you love and support her, no matter what her grades are.