5 Types of Report Card Comments for Elementary Teachers

Tips to Help You During the Grading Process

Failing Report Card on Refrigerator
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When writing report card comments, focus on the student's existing strengths and look for ways to motivate the student to improve in areas of weakness by providing advice. The following phrases and statements can help you tailor your comments for each specific student. Writing report card comments designed to instill ambition within students can empower them to make positive changes. Try to provide specific examples whenever you can to make your report card comments more personal.

Key Takeaways: Report Card Comments

  • Stress positive attributes
  • Use words such as "requires," "struggles," or "seldom" to show when a child needs extra help
  • Introduce areas in need of work in a way that won't make parents feel like you're criticizing the student unnecessarily, for example, list negative comments under a comments section titled "goals to work on"
  • Supportive and detailed comments can provide parents with ways to partner with you to make students feel empowered to do better

Attitude and Personality

Phrases

  • Has a good attitude toward school.
  • Is an enthusiastic learner who seems to enjoy school.
  • Strives to reach his full potential.
  • Shows initiative and thinks things through for herself.
  • Exhibits a positive outlook and attitude in the classroom.
  • Is a sweet and cooperative child.
  • Is self-confident and has excellent manners.
  • Is honest and trustworthy in dealings with others.
  • Is developing a better attitude toward schoolwork this year.
  • Needs to improve classroom attitude by learning to better collaborate with classmates.
  • Needs to work on sharing more with others and being a better friend.

Comments should be both celebratory and constructive when appropriate. Give students examples of what works well for them, recognize areas in which they truly excel, and provide information on not only what needs to be improved, but how the student can improve in those areas.

  • Continues to make nice progress this year concerning...
  • As we discussed in our last parent-teacher conference, [your child's] attitude toward the basic skills is...
  • I will continue to need your help and support in order for [your child] to overcome his attitude and social difficulties. He will find school a much more pleasant place if he/she can make a positive effort in this area.
  • [Your child's] attitude has continued to improve. Thank you for your support and cooperation.
  • [Your child] has shown a good attitude about trying to improve in [this subject]. I am hoping this recent interest and improvement will continue throughout the school year.

Participation and Behavior

Spend time reflecting on not just grades, but also the student's actions in class. Participation is often a significant portion of the grading model, and your comments should address the level of participation a student has, such as "remains an active learner throughout the school day and is enthusiastic about participating." Comments should also address a student's behavior, both positive and negative.

  • Takes an active role in discussions.
  • Needs to actively participate in classroom discussion.
  • Listens attentively to the responses of others.
  • Is courteous and shows good manners in the classroom.
  • Consistently cooperates with the teacher and other students.
  • Is kind and helpful to everyone in the classroom.
  • Caring, kind, and eager to please.
  • Needs to listen to directions.
  • Needs to work on staying focused and on task.
  • Needs to work on not distracting others during class.

Time Management and Work Habits

Students who are always well-prepared for class and have strong organization study habits can benefit from being reminded that this simple, yet important, skill is recognized and appreciated. Similarly, students who aren't prepared, rush their work, or need to stay on task more need to know that this behavior is noticed and is not condoned. Your comments can provide clear recognization of skills and give parents insight into areas in which students need to improve.

  • Is well-prepared for class each day.
  • Rushes through work or does not work at an appropriate pace.
  • Never completes assignments in the allotted time.
  • Comprehends well, but needs to work more quickly.
  • Puts her best effort into homework assignments.
  • Stays on task with little supervision.
  • Is a self-motivated student.
  • Sacrifices accuracy for unnecessary speed in his written work.
  • Completes assignments in the time allotted.
  • Avoids careless errors through attention to detail.
  • Uses class time wisely.
  • Needs to keep her cubby and desk better organized.

General Learning and Social Skills

How a student works with peers and makes friends can be reflective of their personalities, and what they need in order to succeed in life. Your comments should reflect the student's abilities to work in groups, individually, and if they are good citizens. Pay attention to how students interact with each other not just in the classroom, but also on the field and at recess, where they often don't feel like the teachers are directly supervising.

  • Needs to be accepting and willing to make new friends.
  • Responds well to positive praise and clear expectations.
  • Is learning to be careful, cooperative, and fair.
  • Works well in groups, planning and carrying out activities.
  • Works democratically with peers.
  • Makes little effort when not under direct supervision.
  • Needs a lot of repetition and practice in order to retain the information given.
  • Shows self-confidence in...
  • Uses a variety of learning strategies to help with...
  • Applies knowledge of...
  • Needs more opportunities to ...
  • Writes clearly and with purpose.
  • Seeks responsibilities and follows through.

Helpful Words

Here are some helpful words to include in your report card comment section: aggressive, ambitious, anxious, confident, cooperative, dependable, determined, developing, energetic, emerging, friendly, generous, happy, helpful, imaginative, improving, neat, observant, pleasant, polite, prompt, quiet, receptive, reliant, resourceful.

Stress the positive attributes and list "goals to work on" to notify the parents about the negatives. Use words such as "requires," "struggles," or "seldom" to show when a child needs extra help. Introduce areas in need of work in a way that won't make parents feel like you're criticizing the student unnecessarily.

Addressing Areas in Need of Improvement

You can tweak any of the phrases above to indicate an area of improvement by adding the word "Needs to." For a more positive spin on a negative comment, list it under a comments section titled "goals to work on." For example, for a student who rushes through the work, you might say something like, "Needs to focus on trying to do his best work without rushing and having to be the first one finished." Supportive and detailed comments can provide parents with ways to partner with you to make students feel empowered to do better.