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The ABC’s of reviewing report cards
a young boy wearing a blue shirt

The ABC’s of reviewing report cards

Most of us remember receiving our report cards as children. For some of us, it was a time to eagerly anticipate; we got to share our successes with proud grandparents or redeem our A’s for a sweet treat. For others, it was a time wrought with anxious dread, not knowing if that extra study session paid off, if we would have to sit out next season, or if that one bombed test would affect our college applications. As a result, we felt the pressure associated with the letters on that piece of paper.

As parents and educators, we know that the purpose of a report card is to inform, monitor, and track student performance and standard mastery in a particular class or course. And while many of us may view report cards as the most important document a child receives from school, there are worthwhile considerations that may alleviate some of the pressure of those letters. Here are the ABC’s of reviewing and preparing for your child’s report card:

A: ACKNOWLEDGE what report cards can and cannot ACCOUNT for.

Report cards display accumulated averages of various assignments ranging from tests, projects and essays, to quizzes, homework, and presentations. As a result, report cards will not fully detail every skill or topic a student has mastered or accomplished in a class. Viewing a report card as the sole representation of a student’s achievement is like someone who is trying to shed a few pounds only looking at the number on a scale to determine his or her health status; the truth is, achieving overall wellness should be observed by examining various factors, such as the way clothes are fitting or the ability to sleep through the night. In the same way, there are additional observations worth making when assessing student progress that cannot be captured by grades on a report card. Maybe a student who struggles with public speaking successfully gave a speech in front of his or her peers, or perhaps a student who knows the material but struggles with test anxiety was able to display understanding of the material in another assignment. So, while letters on a report card can give an indication of how much a student may know, it may not entirely account for his or her overall effort or mastery over a particular topic.

B: BEFORE report card distribution, BOOST awareness.

It is important to know that all students are smart at something; it is also important that we deliberately help students see that as well. Be intentional about finding and celebrating the areas in which your child is excelling. Also, being aware of how your child is doing regularly in all classes–particularly in the subject areas he or she may find challenging–should eliminate any unwanted or unexpected surprises. Being proactive in learning where your child’s strengths and weaknesses lie may help to manage expectations with grades on a report card.


It is hard to even begin to digest the impact that the pandemic has had on children and their education. Many students have had to suffer silently, struggling to find the motivation to learn, to ask for help, or to balance their workload as the result of such a difficult and complicated life season. If you have or know a student who is struggling, and if that struggle has manifested itself on a report card, remind that student that the letters on that piece of paper do not determine or define his or her capabilities.

If your student is in need of additional assistance, we can help. Better Than Average Tutoring is not solely about helping students achieve a grade on a report card. At BTA, our tutors cultivate an enjoyable learning environment, equip students with skills to retain content, and provide parents feedback on student progress. Our team acknowledges achievements seen on report cards and progress reports, but we also celebrate the other invaluable victories that happen along the way. To learn more about our learning community, call us at 334-802-1315, or email us at

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