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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Report Card Comments

April 10, 2007

Molly brought home her kindergarten report card yesterday. I completely skipped over the grades section, and went right to the teacher comments, written by Molly's teacher.

As a teacher, I remember when we shifted from hand-written report cards to computer generated ones. We bubbled grades for achievement and effort in each area, and chose narrative comments from a list provided by the county, similar to this. As teachers, we loved the new system; it was a LOT less cumbersome than handwritten comment sections, and as long as we bubbled the correct gender for a child, the report card comments were guaranteed to be error free and grammatically correct.

But now, as a parent, I have to say I MUCH prefer the intimacy of a comment written directly by the teacher. When I read what Molly's teacher wrote, I see Molly in there. Her teacher used words to describe Molly's writing and reading that would never appear on a generic list of comments. There's no substitute for the specificity and warmth one gets with teacher generated comments.

I'm wondering what other parents and teachers feel about the issue of report cards. Should we be moving toward generic, pick-your-comment formats that explicitly address only state mandated objectives, or should we demand something that really tells us something about how our child is doing? And, what can we do to ease the burden on teachers who opt for a more personal approach?

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"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges