How to Prepare for Progress and First Report Cards this Fall

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How to Prepare for Progress and First Report Cards this Fall

The fall season is known for shorter days, cooler temperatures and the first report card of the school year for elementary and secondary students in Ontario. While the student assessment and evaluation process may feel confusing or even mysterious, there is more of a science to it than you may realize due to the standardized provincial curriculum and systems in place. Parents and caregivers play an important and integral role, as strong family involvement supports student achievement and success. To help decode the first report card of the school year, the Teachers on Call in-person and online tutoring team have prepared this guide for families to help kids flourish. Read on!

Why the Fall Progress Report Card is Important

There is a lot of valuable information early on to decipher from progress and mid-term report cards for students of all ages. 

Here are 5 reasons why paying attention to progress reports will positively impact longterm results:

  • Encourages proactive communication between you and your child’s teacher.
  • Provides a snapshot in how well your child is developing the 6 learning skills and work habits.
  • Gives early indicators on progress in academic subjects. For example, English , math, social studies, science and technology.
  • While there will not be a grade or mark in the progress report card for elementary students, it will indicate how your child is progressing in each academic area as either “very well”, “well” or “with difficulty”.
  • Includes student strengths, comments, and suggested next steps for learning.

Timelines for Progress Reports and Mid-Term Report Cards

For elementary and secondary students in Ontario, there are a few key times per year when academic progress and grades are formally shared.

Elementary Students

For elementary students, fall (November) is when the first progress report is shared with families, followed by the Provincial Report Card 1 in winter (February) and Provincial Report Card 2 in spring (June).

Secondary Students

For high-school students in full-year schedules there are 3 report cards per academic year – first, second and final reports. Exact dates are set by individual school boards, according to reporting periods.

For semester system high-schools there are 2 report cards per semester - a first and final report card. The mid-term report cards are usually sent out in the fall (late October/November) for the first semester and in March/April for the second semester. Final provincial report cards are issued after exams in mid February and early July.

Regardless of the schedule, fall report cards provide early insight into how well your child is progressing and developing with the academic courses and how the 6 learning skills and work habits.

What Progress Report Card Looks Like for Public and Catholic Schools

It does not matter where exactly in Ontario your child attends school, there is a formula for progress reports and mid-term report cards. In fact, public and Catholic schools must follow an official template for elementary students in Kindergarten, Grades 1-6, Grades 7-8 and for high school students in Grades 9 – 12. Students in junior and senior kindergarten will receive a kindergarten communication of learning: initial observations. To familiarize yourself with these formats, you can review the four templates depending on your child’s grade.

What Progress Report Cards Looks Like for Private and Independent Schools

If your child is enrolled in a private or independent school, this will vary from school to school. While these schools are required to have a policy about how they will communicate student achievement to parents and caregivers, how they do this is entirely up to them.  These schools can use the Ministry of Education standard report cards, but they do not have to do so as in the public and Catholic School Boards.

The 6 Learning Skills and Work Habits

Ontario fall progress reports for public and Catholic schools outline 6 learning skills and work habits for elementary and secondary students throughout Grades 1 to 12:

  • Responsibility
  • Organization
  • Independent Work
  • Collaboration
  • Initiative
  • Self-regulation

The focus and development of these skills and habits are meant to help students achieve success in college, university, and the workforce. This includes the ability to take initiative, solve problems, think critically, be self-reliant and work both independently and in a team environment.

Progress Reports Go Home First, Parent-Teacher Conferences Take Place Next

After progress report cards go home, there will be an opportunity to discuss it with your child’s teacher(s) at parent-teacher or parent-student-teacher conferences. They tend to take place one week after the reports go home, on the evening before and during the PA Day. Interview slots can be anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes each but are 15 minutes on average. Should you feel this will not be enough time to discuss areas of growth for your child, it’s recommended to arrange a second or alternate meeting to discuss further. Check out this popular Teachers on Call blog on how to prepare for parent-teacher interviews.

Make a Plan to Move Forward

After reviewing the progress report or mid-term report card and attending the parent-teacher conference, this is a good time to make a plan for the rest of the course and/or year ahead. The Teachers on Call in-person and online tutoring service recommends these next steps for consideration.

  • Prepare a follow-up plan with your child and think about what academic objectives you can set for the rest of the course and/or school year.
  • Make realistic goals (even if small) for areas to further develop and grow, and think about strategies to help improve any organizational skills.
  • Work with your child to consider any additional academic support or tutoring they may require to support their success.
  • Share progress report cards and feedback from parent-teacher conferences with professionals working with your child, including your child’s academic coach, in-person or online tutor. This ensures everyone is on the same page going forward.

We hope this information is helpful to your family this fall in your preparation as progress report cards arrive home. Should you have any questions on next steps, please feel free to contact our office in the process.

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