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Guidelines for Writing Effective Report Card Comments DRAFT November 2007

Guidelines for

Writing Effective Report Card Comments

DRAFT

November 2007

These Guidelines are intended to support teachers and school administrators in the development of clear, personalized report card comments that effectively communicate student achievement to parents and guardians.

It is important to note that the provincial report card is only one among several means used by teachers for reporting student achievement to parents and students. Communication about student achievement should be continuous throughout the year and should include, in addition to the report card, such things as parent-student- teacher conferences, portfolios of student work, interviews, phone calls, informal reports, and so on.

Communication about student achievement should be designed to provide detailed information that will encourage students to set goals for learning, help teachers to establish plans for teaching, and assist parents in supporting learning at home.

(Guide to the Provincial Report Card, Grades 1 - 8)

Ongoing communication that provides varied, timely and focused feedback to students and parents will support the grade on the report card, ensure that there are “no surprises” and reinforce the partnership of all involved to improve student learning.

Included in this package:

Introduction

Please note: Important Information!

Anchor chart for writing effective report card comments

Key Characteristics of report card comments and their rationale

Sample comments

Suggestions for jargon-free language

Resource suggestions

Please Note: Important Information

Formatting of content: Prose vs. Point Form

The use of prose or point form for Term 1 reporting is at the discretion of the principal. Direction for Term 2 and Term 3 regarding format will be at the discretion of the Superintendent of Teaching and Learning.

Technology:

Please be aware that using a hard return (pressing the enter key on your keyboard to go to the next line) does not always accurately count characters in Web Achievement. Therefore we strongly advise against the use of the hard return. If point form is to be used, please leave several spaces and start the next point on the same line (see sample comment number 2) or preview the report card (print individual or class reports) to ensure lines have not been 'cut off'.

Through lessons learned with the IEP writer, we are aware that copying comments from a FileMaker platform (ie. e-teacher) can also import hidden characters and problems. We strongly advise against copying comments from e-teacher. Copying and pasting comments from e-teacher, then to a word processing program is not a solution to this issue either, as hidden characters and scripts can still be retained. Choosing to copy and paste from e-teacher is not supported by ICT and is done at your own risk. In addition, e-teacher comments written several years ago do not necessarily reflect the current revised curriculum, as well as the characteristics of effective report card comments as established by Kawartha Pine Ridge D.S.B.

ANCHOR CHART

WRITING EFFECTIVE REPORT CARD COMMENTS

Exemplary report card comments:

use jargon free language

are personalized, individualized and specific and use names and appropriate pronouns

emphasize quality over quantity

include strengths, weaknesses and next steps, and the next steps clearly address strengths and/or weaknesses

ensure letter grades/marks and comments support and align with each other

reflect all four categories of the achievement chart

describe student achievement as related to overall curriculum expectations

encourage partnerships between parents/guardians and teachers

describe a student’s academic growth by anchoring the comments in both the processes and the products/ performances

reflect the expectations as laid out in modified Individual Education Plans

ANCHOR CHART

KEY CHARACTERISTICS AND RATIONALE

WRITING EFFECTIVE REPORT CARD COMMENTS

Exemplary report card comments:

 

KEY CHARACTERISTIC

RATIONALE

use jargon free language

-

parents/guardians need to be able to

 

read and understand what we’re saying

about their child

-

we need to keep in mind our audience

when composing, as not all parents/guardians are highly literate

are personalized, individualized and specific and use names and appropriate pronouns

parents/guardians want to know that we know and understand their child

-

-

easy for parents/guardians to

 

understand; useful for teachers

-

accountability and clarity

emphasize quality over quantity

effective ways of communicating with parents/guardians is not based on

-

 

quantity, but on the quality of information that we provide

-

comment boxes do NOT need to be

filled, especially in the case of the large boxes on the Kindergarten report card

include strengths, weaknesses and next steps, and the next steps clearly address strengths and/or weaknesses

- focus is on evidence based instruction

- logical sequence that conveys how the

student is doing, and what to do to improve achievement

 

provides explicit direction for improving student achievement

-

ensure letter grades/marks and comments support and align with each other

-

on-going communication results in more

meaningful partnerships and success for students

 

- erase miscommunication

- triangulation of data

 

KEY CHARACTERISTIC

RATIONALE

reflect all four categories of the achievement chart

higher level thinking skills and upper level of Bloom’s need to be evaluated and reported on

-

 

- as per Ministry direction

describe student achievement as related to overall curriculum expectations

- as per Ministry direction

encourage partnerships between parents/guardians and teachers

no one individual can educate students on their own: we all need to work together

-

describe a student’s academic growth by anchoring the comments in both the processes and the products/ performances

-

more authentic and real for

parents/guardians

-

allows a link between what they are

reading and what they have experienced with their child over the course of the term

reflect the expectations as laid out in modified Individual Education Plans

- as per Ministry direction

- demonstrates to parents/guardians how

a child’s program has been differentiated, accommodated and modified as laid out in the IEP

Sample Report Card Comment #1

The following sample report card comment reflects many of the characteristics identified on the anchor chart. This sample comment contains less than 1100 characters which will fit into the English box on the report card.

jargon free language (ie. books, magazines instead of texts - friends instead of peers)
jargon free language (ie.
books, magazines
instead of texts - friends
instead of peers)
Comments reflect achievement of overall language expectations, highlighted by specific examples.
Comments reflect achievement of
overall language expectations,
highlighted by specific examples.
Strengths, weaknesses and next steps are identified for parents
Strengths, weaknesses
and next steps are
identified for parents

Tom enjoys reading books and magazines, especially non-fiction such as biographies and environmental articles. He is able to predict what will happen next, make connections between what he’s reading and what he already knows and determine the main idea. These skills are part of a growing bank for Tom to draw upon when he reads more difficult books, including stories, during second term. When writing, Tom uses colourful words which makes his writing a pleasure to read. He continues to need help to organize his ideas before beginning to write. Using organizers to plan his writing will be a focus for second term. Tom enjoys participating in conversations and discussions. He speaks and expresses his ideas clearly, and listens carefully to his friends. Tom applied his language skills to create an interesting slide show analyzing the declining bear population in the North. Using pictures, music and voice conveyed some of the issues these animals are facing. During second term, Tom will be encouraged to read more about key issues and critique/defend his point of view in writing.

Comments are personal - Tom’s name and pronoun “he” is used
Comments are personal
- Tom’s name and
pronoun “he” is used
Levels of the Achievement Chart are represented, including higher order Bloom’s
Levels of the
Achievement Chart are
represented, including
higher order Bloom’s
Tom’s academic growth is described by anchoring the comments in both the process and the
Tom’s academic growth is described
by anchoring the comments in both
the process and the products/
performances

Sample Report Card Comment #2

The following sample report card comment reflects many of the characteristics identified on the anchor chart. Note: Please be aware that using a hard return (pressing the enter key on your keyboard to go to the next line) does not always accurately count characters in Web Achievement. Therefore we strongly recommend against the use of the hard return.

jargon free language (ie. objects and drawings instead of manipulatives)
jargon free language
(ie. objects and
drawings instead of
manipulatives)
Comments reflect achievement of overall math expectations, highlighted by specific examples.
Comments reflect achievement of
overall math expectations,
highlighted by specific examples.

Annie has demonstrated good knowledge of the math concepts studied this term. Strengths: - she accurately reads, compares and orders numbers to 10,000 - she uses and compares fractions and decimals - she estimates and measures time to the nearest minute - she collects pieces of information and organizes them into different kinds of graphs - Annie asks good questions when trying to solve problems and is often able to think of creative and different ways of solving them Weaknesses/Next Steps: - at times Annie is able to use math terms to explain her work - she finds doing math problems in her head more difficult - she will practice using objects and drawings to demonstrate and clarify her mathematical thinking when problem solving - she will have opportunities to connect what she knows about patterns in math to patterns in real life and other subjects such as science

Comments are personal - Annie’s name and pronoun “she” is used
Comments are personal
- Annie’s name and
pronoun “she” is used
Strengths, weaknesses and next steps are identified for parents
Strengths, weaknesses
and next steps are
identified for parents
Describes Annie’s academic growth by anchoring the comments in both the process and the products/
Describes Annie’s academic growth
by anchoring the comments in both
the process and the products/
performances
Levels of the Achievement Chart are represented, including higher order Bloom’s
Levels of the
Achievement Chart are
represented, including
higher order Bloom’s

Suggested Alternatives for Jargon-Free Language

Use

Rather than

uses personal experiences to make sense of a story

-

- uses prior knowledge

- classmates, other children

- peers

- rereads

- revisits

- books, charts and magazines

- texts

- different types of reading materials

- genres

(e.g., fiction, non-fiction, poetry)

uses knowledge of letters and sounds to write new words

-

uses spelling approximations phonemic awareness/phonics

-

uses pictures and familiar words to figure out unfamiliar words

-

- uses context

-

uses familiar words in writing

- uses high frequency words

reactions to books, videos through writing, art and drama activities

-

- responses

-

participates

- engages

uses knowledge of letters and sounds and written language to figure out unknown words

-

- decodes, phonemic awareness/phonics

materials such as cubes, wooden blocks, pattern blocks

-

- manipulatives

Resources that Support Evaluation and Grading

Ontario Ministry of Education Funding:

Provincial Elementary Assessment and Evaluation Resource Document to Support the Implementation of Effective Elementary Assessment and Evaluation Classroom Practices,

2004.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2003. A Guide to Effective Instruction in Reading:

Kindergarten to Grade 3. Toronto, Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Pages 12.1 - 12.37.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2005. A Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing: Kindergarten to Grade 3. Toronto, Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Pages 7.1 - 7.11.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2006. A Guide to Effective Literacy Instruction - Volume Two:

Assessment. Toronto, Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Pages 11 - 15, 32 - 33.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2003. Early Math Strategy: The Report of the Expert Panel on Early Math in Ontario. Toronto, Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Pages 38 - 45.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2003. Early Reading Strategy: The Report of the Expert Panel on Early Reading in Ontario. Toronto, Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Pages 27 - 31.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2006. Language: Grades 1 - 8 (revised). Toronto, Ontario:

Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Pages 15 - 22.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2004. Literacy for Learning: The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy in Grades 4 - 6 in Ontario. Toronto, Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Pages 45 - 55.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2005. Mathematics: Grades 1 - 8 (revised). Toronto, Ontario:

Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Pages 18 - 24.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2004. Social Studies: Grades 1 - 6; History and Geography:

Grades 7 - 8 (revised). Toronto, Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Pages 9 - 14.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2004. Teaching and Learning with Mathematics: The Report of the Expert Panel on Mathematics in Grades 4 - 6 in Ontario. Toronto, Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Pages 41 - 45.

Ontario Ministry of Education, 2006. The Kindergarten Program. Toronto, Ontario: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Pages 8 - 11.