Advice for Report Cards from a Principal’s Perspective

By Principal Judy, Intake Coordinator at Teachers on Call

Posted in Featured, Parent Education Resources, Special Ed. Tutoring, Tips & Advice

Advice for Report Cards from a Principal’s Perspective

Report cards for elementary schools (Report Card 1) and secondary schools (final for semester 1 or quad 2) come home this February, and for many parents and students, the question becomes now what?

We discussed progress report cards earlier this year in our blog report cards are out – now what?

Our team would like to add some information as we move through the school year. While we have traditionally given you tips from our teachers, this blog looks at the reflections on report cards from a principal on our team.

As a reminder, there are three main areas of focus on provincial reports in Ontario:  the grade/mark, the comment, and the learning skills. 

Elementary reflections

What to look for: With elementary reports, teachers now have a half year of work to comment and report on for the report card.  Look at the level/mark of achievement and reflect on the student’s first progress report. 

Some questions you might consider:  Is the student showing advancement in the mark?  Are learning skills improving?

Next steps: If there is no improvement or a regression, please reach out to the teacher as soon as possible.  Ask for their input on what next steps you could take at home to help improve your student’s outcomes.  Often the biggest challenges occur when parents and students leave the conversation too late.  Scheduling a virtual parent/teacher conference is something, as a principal, I would recommend for all parents – but especially for parents who noticed their student is struggling.  Teachers have a vast store of knowledge and suggestions for how to support your student.

Another avenue to consider is having a tutor to support your student and help them improve in the second half of the year.  Having a tutor in place – who is a curriculum specialist in the grade level your student needs support – can build their confidence and help them reach their goals. 

Secondary reflections

What to look for: End of semester (or quad) reports are a time for greater reflection. While tempting to treat the next semester as a fresh slate, it’s still important to give time to understanding your high-schooler’s grasp on the curriculum from the first semester.

Some questions you might consider:  Did your student attain all their credits?  Are their marks at a level they are happy with?

Next steps: If your student did not successfully complete a credit, there are several considerations.  If this is a core subject/required credit, it must be passed to graduate.  They can repeat the credit in second semester, summer school or next year.  The choice of when to retake the credit is dependent on many factors – and setting up a meeting with the school guidance services is a great place to start.

Guidance counsellors are a great resource for students and parents to help make important decisions about next steps.

If there is space in the timetable and your student’s course selections, and if we are in the first five days of the new semester, often retaking the subject in the next semester is a great option, as the material will still be relatively fresh in their mind.  If that is not possible, discuss the merits and drawbacks of summer school vs. next year.  As a principal, I often felt that some subjects were better suited to summer school than others but, in the end, it is a decision that should be made in consultation with the school.  If your student is taking the subject again the next year, request that it be in first semester, so that they could then take any new grade level course in the second semester (e.g. if they fail grade 10 math, they could retake in semester one next year and complete grade 11 math in semester two, so they would be back on grade level by the end of the year).

Another option is to consider taking the subject at a different level.  This, of course, will depend heavily on your student’s post secondary plans and your student’s abilities.  Again, a guidance counsellor is a great resource to help navigate the many options of levels.

On final reports (whether quad, semester or year), be sure to look at credit accumulation (students need 30 credits to graduate, 18 of which are compulsory) and community involvement (40 hours traditionally is required to graduate).

Community Involvement

Community involvement is meant to allow students to be volunteers in their community.  It cannot be a position for which they or another person would normally be paid.  When in doubt, be sure to check with your guidance counselor before starting the hours.  As a principal, it was always a challenge when a student would come (usually at the last minute) with a “community involvement” which did not meet the requirements – and which, therefore, could not legally be counted.  Remember, if your student is having difficulty finding community involvement options or understanding revisions due to pandemic, guidance departments will generally have suggestions or opportunities they can share. If looking for online opportunities, check out our blog on how students can volunteer virtually during the pandemic.

Final reflections

As secondary students move into the second semester, consider starting tutoring sooner rather than later.  As we noted with elementary students, high-school students also feel more confident and more able to manage upcoming challenges when they have a support system in place.  Having a tutor lined up – 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 an excellent 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.  It’s not recommended to wait until May or June, when your teenager is in great difficulty - reach out now to find a great tutor and help set your student on the path to academic success.  It is never too early to get support in place to help your child be more successful.

Whatever your tutoring needs or questions, the Teachers on Call team is here to help.

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