How to Make Report Card Writing Easier

By | First Published: | Last Updated: 27 September, 2021

There is so much to do at the start of the school year. Yet, there is one thing many teachers overlook, and it is something that will save you a lot of work later on. I’m talking about report cards!

Love them or hate them, report cards are part of every teacher’s life. And they take a great deal of time to write.

You can make writing your report cards quicker and easier by completing one, simple action right now! You can actually do it at any time. But it works best at the start of a reporting cycle, such as the start of a:

  • Semester
  • Year


What is this One, Simple Action to Make Writing Report Cards Easier?

You need to match your assessment tasks to your report card.

If you are like most teachers, you plan assessment while you plan your units.

However, writing report cards will be much easier if you begin at the end. In this case, that end is the reporting system that your school uses.

How to Match Assessment Tasks to Report Cards

Matching assessment tasks to report cards is quick and easy. Follow these two steps.

  1. Start by becoming familiar with your school’s report card headings and rating scales
  2. For each heading, decide what assessment tasks you will use to make decisions

For example, a few years ago, I taught at a school that had report card headings something like this.

sample report card headings

You may agree or disagree with these headings and rating scales, just as you may agree or disagree with your own school’s reporting system. That is not the point of this article.

What I want to do is help you write those report cards quickly and easily. To do this, you:

  • Look at each subheading
  • Select suitable ways to assess your students’ achievement in those areas

Example 1 – Reading Fluency

Reading Fluency is one of the subheadings of the above report card. I would start by deciding how I would go about assessing students’ fluency. I chose to use timed readings using a selected passage from a class novel Once. I decided to do this assessment at the end of the semester so that I captured all the progress students had made.

Of course, I would be informally assessing reading fluency every time I listened to a student read. I would use this assessment to give feedback and to inform my teaching. But, for reporting purposes, it is better to assess your students as close as possible to the end of the reporting period.

Example 2 – Writing Genres

Genres is another subheading on the above report card. Assessing genres involves examining students’ writing with a focus on:

  • Textual structure
  • Genre specific devices

In this case, I would use samples of unassisted writing together with a device-specific rubric, such as this one. I would need to collect more than one sample of writing as students will be learning more than one genre. In my situation, I would collect both a narrative and a persuasive piece.

At this point, it is important to note that you can use one assessment task to cover multiple headings. For example, you could use running records to assess both fluency and expression. You could also use samples of unassisted writing to assess grammar and spelling.


Put It Together with An Assessment Plan

Once you have matched your assessment tasks to your report card, you summarise this in an assessment plan. Here is my own sample assessment plan for all the above.

sample assessment plan to make writing report cards easier

Going One Step Further with Markbooks

Call me old-fashioned, but I still recommend that every teacher has a markbook. Mark books make report card writing easier.

I recommend setting up an Excel workbook as your mark book.

To take advantage of this article, you should organise your mark book per your report card headings. Here is a sample mark book (as an excel file) arranged according to the above headings. The file has macros that highlight the current row and column when you select a cell.

In my own mark books, I tend to include more things, such as:

  • Formative assessment results
  • Pre-assessments for each summative assessment – to set up a baseline that I can use to measure progress

But I kept this one simple to highlight the key messages of this article.

A Sidenote on Report Card Headings

Most people reading this article will have little say over the format of their school’s report cards. If you are one of the few who do, I recommend that you consider:

  • The relevant achievement standards in the Australian Curriculum
  • Keeping them parent-friendly and free of jargon
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(MEd., MLead.)

Shaun Killian (me) is an experienced and passionate teacher, as well as a past school principal. After a heart transplant and having both my legs amputated, I am not yet capable of returning to work. Yet, my passion for helping students succeed has led me to use my time to research teaching and associated practices. I then share what I find in practical ways through this website. The greatest compliment I have ever received from a past student was I never left any student behind. That is mission of most teachers and I hope you find the information on this site useful.

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