Collaborating with Parents: Communicating Student Progress with Standards-Based Report Cards

Education is a collaborative effort, and parents play a vital role in their child’s learning process. Effective communication between educators and parents is crucial for student success, and one of the essential tools for communication is the report card. In recent years, many schools have transitioned from traditional letter grades to standards-based report cards. This article explores the benefits of standards-based report cards and provides strategies for educators to effectively communicate student progress to parents.

Understanding Standards-Based Report Cards

Standards-based report cards provide a more detailed and accurate picture of student progress by focusing on specific learning standards or objectives. Rather than assigning a single letter grade for each subject, standards-based report cards assess students’ progress towards specific learning goals, often accompanied by a description or rubric of what students should know and be able to do. This approach allows educators to provide more detailed feedback to students and parents about what areas students are excelling in and where they need improvement.

Benefits of Standards-Based Report Cards

Research has shown that standards-based report cards have several benefits for both educators and parents. Some of these benefits include:

  • Clearer Communication: Standards-based report cards provide a more transparent and informative way to communicate student progress to parents. By focusing on specific learning standards, educators can provide more detailed feedback about what areas students are excelling in and where they need improvement.
  • More Accurate Assessment: Traditional letter grades can be subjective and fail to accurately reflect a student’s understanding of the material. By focusing on specific learning standards, standards-based report cards provide a more accurate assessment of a student’s progress.
  • Focused Instruction: Standards-based report cards help educators identify areas where students are struggling and adjust their instruction to meet the needs of individual students.

Strategies for Effective Communication

Communicating student progress with parents can be a challenging task, but there are several strategies that educators can use to ensure effective communication.

Use Clear and Specific Language

When communicating with parents, educators should use clear and specific language to avoid confusion. Use concrete examples and avoid education jargon whenever possible.

Provide Context

Provide parents with context to help them understand how their child is progressing compared to grade-level expectations. Explain the specific learning standards and how their child is performing in relation to them.

Celebrate Successes

Be sure to highlight student successes and progress. This helps to build a positive relationship with parents and emphasizes the importance of hard work and effort.

Identify Areas for Improvement

While it’s important to celebrate successes, it’s equally important to identify areas where students need improvement. Use specific examples and provide suggestions for how parents can support their child’s learning at home.

Offer Next Steps

Provide parents with information on what steps will be taken to address areas where students need improvement. This helps parents understand how they can support their child’s learning at home and reinforces the idea that education is a collaborative effort.

Overcoming Challenges

While standards-based report cards offer many benefits, there are some challenges that educators may face when implementing them. One of the most significant challenges is that parents may not be familiar with this type of report card and may struggle to understand how to interpret the information provided. To overcome this challenge, educators can provide parents with resources and explanations of the report card system. This could include holding parent-teacher conferences, sending home informational packets, or hosting workshops.

Another challenge is ensuring that educators are accurately and consistently assessing student progress toward the learning standards. This requires ongoing professional development to ensure that educators understand the learning standards and how to assess student progress towards them. Additionally, educators should work collaboratively to establish consistency in grading across classrooms and grade levels.

Future Directions

As the education landscape continues to evolve, it is likely that standards-based report cards will become more common. This trend is driven by the need for more accurate and transparent communication between educators and parents about student progress. However, there is still room for improvement in this area, and ongoing research is needed to identify best practices for implementing and using standards-based report cards effectively.

Another area of potential growth is the use of technology to support communication between educators and parents. Many schools and districts are using online portals and apps to provide parents with real-time updates on their child’s progress. This technology can also facilitate communication between educators and parents, making it easier to share information and collaborate on student learning.


Effective communication between educators and parents is essential for student success. Standards-based report cards provide a more accurate and detailed picture of student progress and can facilitate this communication. By using clear language, providing context, celebrating successes, identifying areas for improvement, and offering next steps, educators can ensure that parents understand their child’s progress and how to support their learning. While there are some challenges associated with implementing standards-based report cards, ongoing research, and professional development can help educators overcome these challenges and improve the effectiveness of this tool.

Can't Find What You'RE Looking For?

We are here to help - please use the search box below.

Leave a Comment