It’s that time of year again and the end of Semester One reports are coming out. It can be an emotional time for you and your child, particularly if the report isn’t what you hoped it would be.
You might be wondering if your child got a “good” report.
Hmm that sure is a loaded word - good
What is a good report? It comes down to your expectations as a parent and your understanding of the Australian Grading System.
Let's break it down.
The Australian Grading System
Before we dive into what makes a report good, let's review the Australian Grading System.
As a classroom teacher, the Australian Grading System is a bit of a bugbear of mine. Not in that it isn’t a good system, it definitely is. It is just what they have chosen to name their rankings.
Now, remember when us oldies were at school and an A was great and a C was well … not so great?
Under our current system, a C means a student is performing at their current grade level and is meeting the expected standard. THIS IS A GOOD THING. This means that they are where they need to be in terms of their learning. If your child “only” gets C’s that is something to celebrate.
Now let's look at the other grades:
An A is awarded for extremely high achievement above grade level. (In my 13 years as a teacher I have NEVER given an A for an entire subject, only a strand and even that was rare).
A B grade represents work that is above grade level.
C grades are awarded when the student is learning at their current grade level.
D grades are awarded where the student is performing below grade level.
E grades show that the student may have “little” or only “rudimentary” understanding of the concepts covered in the subject, or is performing well below grade level.
Deciphering the Teacher Speak and Reading Through the Lines
Ok, so I am going to break the teacher code and tell you what all those euphemisms really mean … because if teachers wrote what they really wanted to write then … well it would be interesting!
Some common report phrases have very specific reference to achievement levels defined by the Australian Curriculum. Unfortunately, these often make little sense to parents or students. A sign of a “good” report are comments that aren’t full of teacher speak and educational terms.
Phrases like “working towards” or “exceeding expectations” usually comprise the first part of the report and tell you what your child has covered, as well as the skills that your child was expected to acquire.
Comments you might see frequently in reports are - that they could “apply themselves more” or that their application is “inconsistent”. Similarly, there’s a subtle-but-important difference between an assignment being “satisfactory” and it being “pleasing”. Students often have a great deal of “potential” and there are of course all of those students who are “independent”, “show enthusiasm” and "know their own mind".
Saying that your child’s work is “inconsistent” means that they either aren’t always trying their best, choosing not to do their work, are distracted, or are having trouble with the curriculum.
“Has a lot of potential”
If your child’s teachers say he has “so much potential”, they’re sharing their frustration with you that they are bright enough but lazy in their approach.
If they “lack focus”, they are not applying themselves, not doing their work in a timely manner and are most likely either distracted or distracting others.
This tells you there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon, but they are far from achieving what they need to.
“Very social” or “enthusiastic”
Students who are “very social” or “bubbly” and who “engage enthusiastically in discussion” are likable but chatty, and probably distract the children around them. Those who “could make more mature seating choices” are being distracted by others.
Students who are “independent” or “know their own minds” are probably not good sharers and most likely don’t follow instructions the first time (or second time), every time.
Ok So How Do I Know if it’s a “Good” Report?
To tell if your child has received a good report, look at the comments and the effort boxes. If they are achieving C grades and you are disappointed that's ok and a totally normal feeling. As parents we just want our children to thrive and be successful. If your child receives comments saying they are always trying their best and other positive comments then it is a FANTASTIC report. If their effort columns are all always and often then that is FABULOUS. As a parent I want to know my child is trying their best, being a responsible student and a kind friend.
It is also really important to note that if your child received a D last year say for English and received a D this year, that does not mean that they haven’t made any progress. They have made one year's progress and that is WONDERFUL. Remember each year the learning is more difficult. It is extremely difficult to move from a D to a C once a student has large learning gaps, especially without any learning intervention.
When Should I Be Worried?
This brings us to the nitty-gritty question … What is a “bad” report? When should I be worried? Well this depends and is definitely a case-by-case basis … but I would be worried if;
Their overall subject grades have dropped from last semester (i.e at the end of last year they received a C for maths and now are getting a D).
Their effort is sometimes or rarely or has changed significantly since last year's report.
The comments tell you that they are not trying their best, or are distracted and inattentive.
if your child is described as having “difficulties adjusting to rules and routines”, this might be the teacher telling you they are misbehaving, or it may suggest that there’s something else going on.
If a teacher describes your child as a “perfectionist”, this is not necessarily a good thing. It could be that they are so particular about presentation, or so frightened of getting something wrong, that they don’t take risks, spend way too long making it perfect, and don’t finish their work. This is something to be concerned about. The earlier you address perfectionist tendencies, the earlier your child will get used to learning from their mistakes.
If your child is only able to demonstrate certain skills “at times” or has “some or little understanding”, it’s likely that he needs a fair amount of academic support.
If you are worried about your child’s report, remember not to panic! Book a meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss their progress.
If you think tutoring may help your child’s learning (and it certainly will) get in touch with us and we can organise a free call to discuss your child’s needs. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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