Many schools across Ontario are sending out progress report cards this November, and for several parents and students, the question becomes now what?
How it Works
The layout, structure and timing of the report card will vary depending on the grade level of student and whether your child is in kindergarten, elementary or high school. At the secondary level, if your son or daughter is studying in a quadmester, semester or full-year model.
Timing of Report Cards
For elementary students in Ontario, November is when the first progress report is shared with families, followed by the Provincial Report Card 1 & 2 in February and June. For high-school students in full-year schedules there are 3 report cards per academic year – first, second and final reports. For semestered high-schools there are 2 report cards per semester - a first and final report card. Regardless of schedule, progress reports give a snapshot early into the course and school year how your child is progressing and developing learning skills and work habits.
Grades & Marks/Comments/Learning Skills
Generally, there are three main areas of focus: the grade/mark, the comment and the learning skills. Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend you also look at attendance!
Elementary progress report cards do not have letter grades or percentage marks. Instead, they include important comments from your child's teacher(s), and spotlight strengths and areas for further development.
The grade/mark and comment is a rough indicator of current achievement. Depending on your student’s expectations and past performance, this may be a confirmation of their moving forward or a wake-up call that changes need to happen.
Coaching Questions you can ask your Child (depending, of course, on their age):
- Were all assignments submitted?
- Are you happy with your grade and/or the teacher’s comment?
- What (if any) changes do you need to make to be more successful?
- How can I support you? (This one is very important, as students often know what they need to do – they just need a bit of help in how to do it.)
It is also important to remember, for secondary students, the culminating/final exam can represent as high as 30% – so there is still lots of time to prepare and improve.
The 6 learning skills are another area you can focus on – what areas (responsibility, organization, independent work, collaboration, initiative, self-regulation) need work? If looking for more details on decoding the document, check out our parents’ guide to deciphering report cards.
Again, ask your Child:
- Are you happy with these skills?
- What one area can you focus on improving now?
- How can I support you?
- You might also ask: do you understand what all these terms mean?
For many students, families and educators, this past year has been a year like no other. Covid protocols, in-person, online, different teachers, different experiences – all these create stress and anxiety for most of our students. Add in that, due to many of those factors, there may now be gaps in their learning, and many students are experiencing frustration this year – when they are expected to know about topics they weren’t explicitly taught last year. This is no reflection on teachers or students – everyone was doing their best in a very unique situation. But – now what?
Talk to Student First and then the Teacher
There are a number of ways to approach the challenge when reports do not accurately reflect a student’s prior achievements. We always recommend starting with your child (with some of the coaching questions from above). The next step is to talk to your student’s teacher. This can be done in person (where allowed), on the phone or online. The good news is that parent-teacher interviews immediately follow these reports. Ask what they are seeing and what suggestions they have for next steps. Often the student you see at home is not the student they see in the classroom – seeing that difference through the teacher’s eyes may help you better understand where your child is finding challenges.
Tutoring as a Strategy for Students to Reach Full Potential
Another suggestion is to look at tutoring. Progress report time is an ideal opportunity to share the document or feedback with your son or daughter's current tutor(s). This additional information will be helpful in understanding identified areas where additional support or enrichment will be beneficial.
If you don’t have a tutor lined up yet, it is never too early to start. Students feel more confident and more able to handle upcoming challenges when they have a support system in place. Having a tutor ready – who is a curriculum specialist in whichever area your student needs support – can build their confidence and help them reach their goals. As well, if your student wants or needs enrichment, a tutor is a great way to keep them engaged and focused in class while having an outlet to stimulate their love of learning and help them reach their full potential.
Regardless of the results received, there is plenty of time to be proactive to support your child’s learning goals. Whatever your tutoring needs, we’re here to help. Reach out to us to find a great tutor and help set your child on the path to academic success.
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