Writing report card comments can be difficult — and time-consuming. But it’s important to write meaningful comments that families and students can learn from. When a student has a learning difference, how can you balance writing about grade-level progress and IEP goals? And how can you fit all of a student’s growth into a few sentences?
Here are four tips for writing report card comments for students with learning differences.
1. Keep the student’s individual goals in mind.
Students with learning differences often have accommodations to support their progress. And some students with or are not expected to meet grade-level standards. Keep this in mind as you write your comments. Focus more on progress toward individual learning goals, and less on comparisons to general grade-level standards.
If a student is making progress, praise the student in the comments. Be specific. Remember to praise the process and progress, not just the outcome.
2. Consider any modifications.
Remind the family about any . For example, if a student has been receiving modified assessments, mention that in the report card comments.
You may think that a student’s accommodations or modifications need changing. Don’t bring up these proposed changes on a report card. Instead, contact the student’s case manager and make plans to discuss this with the IEP or 504 team.
3. Talk with students ahead of time.
Meeting with students before writing their report cards can help you decide what to focus on in your comments. Talk with them about their progress. Share any feedback that can prepare them for their report card.
It may be hard to find time to meet with students. And some students may want time to think about their replies. You can have students fill out reflection worksheets before the end of the grading period. Then consider what they’ve shared as you write report card comments. Reflection worksheets are a great tool to use after summative assessments or big projects, too.
Teacher tip: Reflection worksheets are useful even if you’re meeting with students. Students can use them to prepare their thoughts in advance. This can help them feel more comfortable — plus make the meetings more efficient.
4. Avoid surprises.
A report card is just a milestone in an ongoing partnership with families. It’s a moment for everyone to stop and think, “What learning and growth have taken place? And where do we need to go next?”
Use your comments to document the highlights of the grading period. But remember that these comments are just one of the many ways that you communicate with families.
Your comments should not be a surprise. If things aren’t going well for the student, don’t wait until the report card to let families know. The same goes for positive feedback. Keep conversations going with the student and their family throughout the semester.
Remember, if you have concerns about a student’s IEP goals, placement, or accommodations, you’ll need to get the IEP or 504 team involved. Don’t include these concerns on the report card. Learn more about your role within the IEP team.
Looking for more ways to communicate with families?
About the author
About the author
Andrew Mangan is a writer and editor living in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kate García, MEd is an Understood Teacher Fellow and a high school science special education teacher at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.