The grading period is here, and you need to issue grades on your middle schoolers' report cards. However, a letter grade is definitely not enough.

In your report card comments, you'll need to communicate with the students' families with commentary to explain the mark, taking care to be specific, identify strengths and weaknesses, establish a goal with action steps, and provide resources.

This essential step can help students improve their grades and avoid confusing situations like:

A man looks up from a report and asks,

Implement these 4 tipsto write effective commentary on your middle schoolers' report cards.

#1: Be specific

Make your report card comments straightforward and meaningful by being specific. Detailed commentary offers feedback on certain skills and knowledge, such as identifying strengths and weaknesses.

This kind of commentary indicates overall progress compared to a generic comment like "The student is doing well," which doesn't tell the family anything about the student's abilities.

A man says,

Flaticon Icon Be specific when commenting on:

  • goals to meet a standard (ex. "__ should spend 20 minutes a day reviewing vocabulary.")

  • action steps to support the student (ex. "__ can attend tutoring after school.")

  • behavior and citizenship such as character, participation, communication skills, and work habits (ex. "I suggest __ practice reading her speech aloud so she is more confident in public speaking.")

#2: Identify strengths and areas of improvement

Report card comments don't need to focus on weaknesses. Highlight students' strengths alongside their areas of improvement to acknowledge how far they've comeand their potential to grow. This allows targeted support in the future.

A woman says,

Flaticon Icon

When commenting about strengths and weaknesses:

  • explain how it contributes to overall progress (ex. "__ is on track in meeting state standards of...")

  • provide examples (ex. "__ often supports others in long division, showing their mastery in the topic.")

  • be solution-focused (ex. "__ struggles with writing topic sentences but can improve by...")

#3: Highlight a goal

Set a SMART goal for the student based on their strengths and areas of weaknesses. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-sensitive.

This is valuable in report card comments to make sure that the student is on track and can use your feedback to improve. Action steps for the student should be included with the goal.

Flaticon Icon Why set a SMART goal?

  • It's focused on a specific time frame (one quarter/semester), so it gives enough time to practice a certain skill.

  • It includes action steps at school and home that will make the goal achievable(ex. tutoring during lunch, practicing vocabulary flashcards at home).

  • Progress can be measured from the start of the quarter/semester to the end.

  • The goal can be adjusted in the next quarter/semester's report card based on progress.

Learn how to set and achieve SMART goals with this Byte!

An athlete says,

Flaticon Icon Example of report card comments with a SMART goal:

Marcus is struggling with multiplying fractions. He can create a SMART goal: Improve his ability to multiply fractions by studying and practicing problems so that he will do well on the next test. He will reach his goal by passing the test.

  • Specific: Marcus will comfortably pass his next test on multiplying fractions.

  • Measurable: He will achieve at least a 60% score.

  • Action-oriented: He will focus on studying and practicing problems to pass the test.

  • Realistic: Marcus will do at least five practice exercises each day before the test.

  • Time-sensitive: He needs to boost his ability to multiply fractions by next week's test.

Action steps: At school, he can ask the teacher for help. At home, he can work on practice problems and note which problems he needs to ask the teacher about.

#4: Provide supports and resources

After listing strengths, areas of improvement, and goals, let students and families know you're here to support them. Report card comments communicate a student's overall progress with their family, so use that space to share resources that could support their learning.

A woman tells her friend,

Flaticon Icon Suggest supports and resources such as:

  • offering tutoring before/after school or during lunch

  • books, websites, and YouTube videos that review topics in depth

  • what families can do to support their students (ex. helping with homework, attending teacher-family conferences)


Mrs. Walter is including comments in a student's report card. She wants the family to know that the student is struggling in her science class. What comments should she include? Select all that apply:

Take Action

Effective report card comments can motivate students by acknowledging their efforts and providing action steps to improve. These tips allow you to openly communicate with families about their students' progresses. Families will appreciate your dedication, and students will know what they can do to improve their grades!

Bart Simpson says,

When writing report card comments, be sure to:


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