Do You Know How To Read Your Child's Report Card?

Understanding Teacher Subtext

Do You Know How To Read Your Child's Report Card?

Report cards are coming home any day now. Teachers are busy putting the final touches on them, and in most schools, final printing will occur this week. Students will be carrying home these treasured or dreaded bits of paper next week. When your little scholar presents you this record of their achievement, will you know how to crack the teacher’s subtext to really understand how your student is doing?

Get An A+ In Understanding Your Child's Assessments: The Rubric




(all grades)

Letter Grades

(Grade 1 -6)

Learning Skills

(all grades)

Percentage Marks

(grade 7-12)

Level 4+


E for excellent


Level 4/4-


E for excellent


Level 3+


G for good


Level 3/3-


G for good


Level 2+


S for satisfactory


Level 2/2-


S for satisfactory


Level 1+


N for Needs Improvement


Level 1/1-


N for Needs Improvement


Remediation Required



 Below 50  (R for Grade 7&8)

Insufficient Evidence



 Below 50  (R for Grade 7&8)

Basically, teachers use a rubric for marking much of the student work and work habits, then the equivalent grades are determined. Marks equal to level four show that the student is surpassing what is excepted for their peer group across the province. Level threes mean your child meets the standard, so nothing to worry about here. Level twos are approaching the standard—the student may need a little more practice, repetition of information, or support from a teacher in order to successfully demonstrate their learning. Level ones mean that a student is falling significantly below the provincial standardif your student's marks fall in these grade ranges, it is time to make a solid plan with the school to create greater success. 

A code R (or marks below 50%) is what we would have called a "fail" in the olden days, when we still used such punitive phrases. It indicates the need for an intervention, such as developing an Individual Education Plan or support from Special Education. If a student is on an Individual Education Plan, they should not receive a code R. The Individual Education Plan should be adjusted throughout the year to ensure a student's success.

Is Your Child Studying The Wrong Way?

A code "I" indicates insufficient evidence to assess the student. This might be the result of a recent enrollment in a new school, an extended time away from school, multiple absences, or another extenuating circumstance that affects a student’s ability to participate in assessment. In high school, a student who receives a code “I” will not receive that credit.

Subject Comments:

Teacher comments also line up with the levels of the rubric. Certain words and phrases are used to modify the description of the expectations and show where a student is at. Most subject comments are developed from using the curriculum expectation as stated by the ministry, then changing it into reader-friendly language, and adding the appropriate phrase to align with the achievement level. Here’s an idea of phrases to look for:


Associated Phrases


With a high degree, Consistently, Thorough, Confidently, Independently, Always


With considerable, Usually, Competently, Ably, Often, Frequently, Dependably


With some, Sometimes, Occasionally, Satisfactorily, Requires some support


With limited, Inconsistently, With difficulty, Rarely, With frequent assistance

The subject comments should also include ideas for what the next steps will or should be for the student. Sometimes these comments contain the phrase “Next Steps,” or phrases such as “is encouraged” or “is urged.”  Often next steps are things you can implement at home to help your child succeed.

Learning Skills/Work Habits:

For grade 1-8 report cards, these are laid out in their own section. Kids are evaluated on responsibility, organization, independent work, collaboration, initiative, and self-regulation. The Learning Skills comment box is the space where teachers can make some generalized comments about your student. As a teacher, I often find this the most useful part of the report. Sure, there is a focus on academics, but the marks give a clear picture of that. This is really the only space in the report card where teachers can really give useful suggestions and descriptive feedback on your student. For secondary school, you find comments regarding work habits included in the subject comments. 

What Does It All Mean?

Report Cards summarize your child’s achievement in school. There shouldn't be anything on a report card that comes as a surprise.  Your child’s teacher should have been communicating any concerns or successes with you throughout the year, and your student will have brought home tests and assignments with feedback on them. Report Cards are just a thumbnail picture of your child as a student. Be sure the lines of communication stay open between the school and your family all year long. If you have any concerns, never hesitate to contact your child’s teacher.

Summer is here!  Enjoy the journey!

It's the mysterious file that follows your child throughout his school career. Find out what's in your child's permanent school record

Learn from a teacherthe best gift is nothing at all, but if you really feel inclined to get one these are the five that will go over well


Score an Easy "A" with Winning Gifts for Teachers

To Gift Or Not To Gift

Score an Easy "A" with Winning Gifts for Teachers

great gifts for teachers

The school break is in reach. If I stand on my tip-toes, I can just feel the edge of it, and so can the kids in my classroom!

I know that with the holidays approaching, many of you consider getting your kids’ teachers gifts.

Here’s my opiniondon’t bother!

Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the kind sentiments that come along with a gift. I have kept many thoughtfully written cards from both my students and their parents. My favourite “gift” that I ever received was from a young student who spent a good hour drawing and colouring a picture.  She put in the effort to colour every square inch of background. The foreground showed a careful drawn dog, proudly sitting on a well-manicured lawn. The sun was shining, there were butterflies in the air, and flowers in the garden. At the top in careful printing, my student had written G is for dog. See how much I taught her? I kept that delightful piece of work on my fridge for many years.

I treasure the cards and drawings, but I really don’t need a gift. When I was a student, my parents were not of the ilk that bought teacher gifts. Every year, our teachers would sit the kids in a circle and we’d watch as the teacher oohed and aahed over each present they opened. And I’d sit cross legged, playing with the fibres in the carpet, feeling like an inconsiderate cad because there was no gift from me. 

Now I’m all grown up and a teacher myself, I have to say I agree with my parents. I teach because I love it. The best gift you can give me is that you trust me to help grow your child’s precious mind. I know that sounds cheesy, but I really believe it. Oh yeah, and of course, I do actually get paid for teaching too. Yes, I work many hours beyond my scheduled ones and I do spend my own money on some books and supplies for the classroom, but I’m sure many people in many professions go above and beyond their job description. I do it because I truly enjoy what I do.

I wouldn’t buy gifts for my grocer or my eye doctor. My child doesn’t give gifts to her pediatrician, who is definitely a vital part of her upbringing. People do jobs and perform services. They are rewarded through pay and job satisfaction. Sure, it’s definitely nice to hear that people appreciate the effort I put into teaching. I like knowing others feel I’m doing a good job, but I don’t need a gift to get that message across.

Also, teacher gifts have gone a bit far. I was just chatting about this to a teacher friend and she said one year the parents of her students collected and gave her a handful of cash. Awkward! I guess we could view it as a tip, but teaching really doesn’t strike me as a tip-dependent career. The educational assistant in my classroom just celebrated a birthday and received a large bottle of alcohol, complete with a fancy glass and a card containing a ten dollar bill. Seriously, that’s weird! 

I just read a post about who to give teacher gifts to and some of the suggestions included bus drivers, office assistants, crossing guards, and principals. Really, where will it end? So many people work to give your child a positive school experience. It just isn’t possible to gift them all. Why should the bus driver get a gift and not the librarian or custodian?

Even still, many of you will persist on buying a gift and I know your intentions are honourable. I will accept your gifts with grace and open them privately or just with your child present, so that no other student feels badly about their lack of giving. If you must give a teacher gift, here is what I would like most:

 A gift certificate to a book store. I will use it to buy books for my classroom.

 A gift certificate for the App store. I will use it to buy educational apps for the classroom.

 A gift certificate for a store selling bins and baskets. I will use it to create a more organized classroom.

 A gift certificate for the Dollar Store. I will use it to create engaging science experiments and art activities for my students.

 Any gift that I can use towards creating a better classroom for my students.

After all, we do what we do for the kids (and summers off are just a really nice perk of the job).

School’s almost out! Enjoy your holidays!

If you liked this, check out Why Your Child's School Is Losing Great Teachers and Why I'm Not Telling My Students They Are Smart.


EduLulu: A Great Educating Tool For Parents and Educators

Growing Brains in the Modern World

EduLulu: A Great Educating Tool For Parents and Educators

edululu an educational tool for parents and teachers

When I returned to work after my maternity leave, there were some new additions to my classroom — two sleek iPad Airs and a shiny new SMART Board, brought in to enhance lessons, engage students, and support learning. 

I want to be able to use technology to support my lessons and I know it’s a great way to keep my students actively involved in their learning. I often give my kids an assignment using web tools and just sit back and watch them soar. They are able to get much more out of an unfamiliar program than I can and often end up teaching me along the way — a phenomenon that not only keeps them excited about learning, but also boosts their confidence in the classroom.

How, though, do I know what apps are really going to be helpful? Where do I start looking and how do I avoid being swayed by an inaccurate publisher's description in the app store. I could definitely use a little direction as to what programs, apps, and websites can best support my lesson plans.

Enter edululu.org. This site stars Lulu, a wonderful cyber-dog who has been working like, well...like a dog, to explore and review educational apps for classroom and home use. This is far and away the easiest to use and the most comprehensive listing of reviews I have found for educational applications. This website will ensure you aren’t "barking up the wrong tree" when it comes to your downloads.

Powered by Groupe Média TFO, Lulu the wise puppy will fetch you an extensive listing of educational French Apps or English Apps. So in short, edululu.org provides teachers and parents easily-accessed, credible advice regarding entries in Google Play and Apple’s App Store. EduLulu’s evaluations are the work of teams of independent experts, including teachers, parents, ergonomists, designers, and web developers. Together, they have done the work for parents who are looking to find an app to help support what is happening in school, to bridge a gap in your child’s learning or just to keep your child’s brain growing through the dog days of summer.

Exploring the site, I found many of my daughter's favourite apps, such as the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn series, reviewed and given a deservedly high rating. Lulu and I seem to agree on some of the best for the classroom too, such as Sight Word Ninja. Starting with age zero and heading up through high school, I was able to find many new apps, not only for classroom use, but also to engage and entertain my tech-saavy toddler.

Here are some tips to ensure you find the perfect apps when navigating the site:

General Tips for when using Edululu

  • Be sure you've opted for the correct site language in the corner of the Edululu site page, as well as in the criteria section when you are search — even still a few French apps snuck in to my all-English searches — I guess Lulu really wants me to improve my Francais!
  • Complete a wide search by using the "All Categories" tab on the "All Apps" page
  • Hold the mouse over the picture of an app that interests you to get a pop-up description of that app.  Click on the picture for a more thorough description and review.
  • Stick to the 4 or 5 bone ratings to get the best apps — I find anything less than that really not useful or user-friendly

Tips for Teachers using Edululu

  • Refine your specific criteria using the very helpful "+ criteria" button.  Narrow your search by grade level, subject area, platform (iOS or Android), etc.
  • If you find an app suggested by Lulu particularily helpful (or unhelpful) with your students, take the time to click on Agree (or Disagree) with the site's rating. That way, we can all help each other in finding the best apps!

Tips for Parents using Edululu

  • Check out "Lulu's Picks" first if you are not sure where to start — this section has the editorial team's favourite apps.
  • Look for apps that will address any areas of academics that are a struggle for your child, but only if they find the games entertaining. Kids learn best when they are having fun and the stress-level is kept to a minimum.

Technology is always at our fingertips and edululu.org can be a powerful tool when used well in a classroom. There's no debate that technology is here to stay. Thanks to Lulu and my modern-minded students, this old dog is learning a few new tricks, one download at a time.