The school year is almost complete and that means it’s time for report cards. But what does your child’s report card really tell you?

There is more to a report card than A, B, and C; they are a window into your child’s learning. Report cards are vital to ensuring your child is being challenged in the classroom and vital to parents in understanding in what areas your child needs additional support and how they can work with teachers and the school to overcome those challenges. Expect More Arizona encourages parents to raise the bar for education, starting with the report card.

That is why we have put together the following five tips to help parents crack the report card code and be engaged in their student’s education:

1. Grades Don’t Necessarily Reflect Work.
A bad grade doesn’t necessarily mean your child isn’t working hard, and a good grade doesn’t necessarily mean your child is working harder. For example, if your child works diligently on their homework and studies consistently, but simply doesn’t test well, that information isn’t reflected in a flat C. Additionally, getting A’s while coasting through class because material is too easy puts your child at an academic disadvantage down the line. Make sure you have consistent communication with your child and his or her instructor to find out the story behind the grades, and how to make sure your child is getting the level of engagement needed to succeed.

2. Grades are an opportunity to raise expectations about personal responsibility.
When discussing grades, it’s important for kids to remember grades are theirs. No one gives them a good or bad grade, they are earned. Part of setting high academic expectations is expecting children to take responsibility for their grades. This doesn’t mean your child is in this alone, but it does mean that he or she needs to take ownership to seek that support from you and their teacher when extra help is needed.

3. Reach beyond the A. 
Parents love to see A’s on their child’s report card. In order to make sure that those straight A students achieve their highest potential, it’s important to make sure they are being challenged.  If children aren’t challenged appropriately, they become may become disengaged from academic achievement and can become underachievers. Additionally, if your child gets straight A’s with little work or effort, later in life he or she might be unprepared to accomplish tasks that actually do challenge their intellect. If you notice your child receiving very high marks without much effort, talk to his or her teacher about moving to more advanced classes or receiving more challenging material.

4. Partner with the teacher to help your child succeed 
Bad grades are a big deal, but not the end of the world. Remember grades are very stressful for kids. Overreacting can cause them to be even more anxious about school, and less able to openly communicate and engage with you. If your child does receive a bad grade, talk to them to find out where things went wrong. From there, work with your child’s teacher to form a strategy for success. For example, if the class is simply too difficult, arrange for a student tutor or extra help from the teacher. If assignments aren’t getting turned in, set aside time for homework each night and ensure your student sticks to the agreed time.  Involve the teacher in this effort to understand what went wrong and how the three of you can work together to fix it.

5. No Surprises.
Report cards are an accrual of your child’s academic performance through an entire semester. If you’re staying engaged with your child’s education, there should be no surprises when report cards are issued. If you’ve set aside time for your child to do homework, consistently discussed assignment grades together, and they’ve been generally doing well on exams, the report card should be at least a B. If it’s lower, determine where there has been a breakdown in communication.

For more information and resources for parents to stay engaged in their student’s education can be found online in our parent resource section. And, to read more blog posts relating to parental engagement, click here.

If you have additional tips for engaging with your child during report card time, please let us know in the comments below.