Beyond the Report Card: How to Measure Your Child’s Progress

By Rebecca Bauer
beyond the report card - online school report card with B C D grades, flat design vector illustration

It’s report card time. The moment of truth for parents and students when progress and problem areas are revealed on one sheet of paper. But as you look beyond the letter grade or symbol, what does it all mean? You may wonder…How does this report card truly measure my child’s progress?

During a recent episode of Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast, Bibb Hubbard, founder and president of Learning Heroes decoded report cards and what larger story they may tell about your child’s progress and overall school ratings. Hubbard also shared how schools and districts can improve the way they share information and what families can do to gauge if their child is on track.

What your child’s report card does (and doesn’t) tell you…

When it comes to understanding your child’s academic achievements, the report card is a good place to start—as long as you know what you’re looking for.

“A report card grade is about effort and engagement,” said Hubbard. “Is your child turning in their homework? Are they raising their hand in class? Are they working really hard? This is really important in terms of the broad life skills that kids need in order to thrive.”

However, often families see good grades on their child’s report card and assume they are performing at or above grade level. That is not always the case. Report cards don’t tell the whole story. Even though only a third of students are proficient in math and reading, 90% of parents believe their child is at or above grade level in these areas.

How can you get more info on your child beyond the report card?

Go to Parent-Teacher Conferences—and ask questions!

“Since 2016, fewer parents are going to parent teacher conferences,” said Hubbard. “The one opportunity baked into the system is not highly valued by parents or teachers.”

How can you make it more valuable? Help direct the conversation so you can learn what you want to know about your child’s development. Ask questions to get more details on your child’s strengths and areas for growth.

Ask to see your child’s assessments (beyond their standardized test scores).

“Most kids are taking other kinds of assessments during the day,” said Hubbard. “Teachers have access to all sorts of data about how our kids are growing, developing, performing, making progress, not making progress, but that information is not required to go home.”

That’s why it’s crucial to dig a bit deeper into your child’s portfolio of work to better understand how they are doing.

Do a “Readiness Check” with your child.

The readiness check is an online interactive tool for students in grades K-8. The easy to use tool helps to give families a sense of how ready their child is for the next grade. If the child is struggling, the tool recommends resources the child can use to practice the skills they need to strengthen.

We asked Bibb how it works and she explained how simple, quick and easy it can be.  “So after you finish up second grade, you can pop your second grader in front of the readiness check and they answer three questions in reading and five questions and math. Depending upon the answers that they select, they’re connected to skill specific resources… really it takes about 10 minutes and it’s been a wonderful tool.”

Hear the full interview with Bibb Hubbard on our podcast, available wherever you listen to podcasts!

Rebecca Bauer is the family engagement specialist with the Center for Family Engagement at National PTA.

Leave a Reply