Report cards come around way too often. OK, maybe they really only happen three times during the school year, but they sure feel like they're always looming over my head. It doesn't help that the report cards are huge (17¼ x 11 inches - too big to work on at a coffee shop, on airplanes, or at my desk) not even counting the separate comments section. Nor does it help that they are made of four layers of "carbonless" paper, which means that every time I fold them or lean on them, let alone make accidental marks, I have to correct four copies.
The main problem is that I am not at all convinced that any of the parents read the report cards, or understand what they mean if they do read them. Some of the fields are measured in numbers (1=Far Below Grade Level, 2=Below, 3=Approaching, 4=Proficient, 5=Advanced), some in symbols (check, plus, and minus), and some in initials (EA=Early Advanced, and so on. And there's a lot of fields to be measured. All of the report cards have to be in English - the best we can do for the Spanish-speaking parents is to give them a blank report card in Spanish so they can see what the different headings are. There's nothing to help any parents who speak any other languages. Yes, I know this is America, but it would be nice if we had some ability to help parents who were showing an interest in their child's education.
And they take a LOT of time to do. I finally looked at a "sample comments" paper a colleague gave me a while back. Never thought I'd run out of creativity with report card comments, but I've been sneaking some looks. There are all sorts of gems like:
XXXX’s attitude toward school is [excellent/very good]. She/he is a [very] good worker and an attentive listener.I never thought I'd stoop to copying and pasting these things but I'm more tired this year than I've possibly ever been. It might be time for a break from teaching. In the meantime, I'll have to be careful that I copy and paste correctly. It would be awful if I put in the comments: "Billy is a great/hyperactive/psychotic/smelly student. He/She should keep it up/be tranquilized/be committed/be bathed.
XXXX has worked hard to adjust to our class. His/her performance has been up and down, and is often distracted by others in the class. He/she often draws in class instead of paying attention.
He/she needs to read as much as possible to increase his/her vocabulary and comprehension.
XXXX is a bright, intelligent student who enjoys school. He/she works hard to do a good job, especially in Language arts/reading/writing/spelling/math.Read every day [as much as possible] [frequently] to develop/increase vocabulary and improve comprehension.