Writing Report Card Comments

Ok, stop your moaning and groaning. We all have to write them. I have been thinking a lot lately about the format of my comments. This Friday is the end of a marking period for both middle and upper school students. We usually grade our classes in the following ways,

  • letter grade (A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C-… and so on)
  • effort grade (E, S+, S, S-, U)
  • student comment
    at the semester we include a narrative comment about the students progress
    at the quarter we share goals that the student can work on in the next marking period

The comments can be the most difficult part. I have found a number of resources over the past few years to aid in the comment writing process.

The first one is from Lindsey Brown a Spanish language teacher at my school titled, Writing Constructive Narrative Assessment Reports for the Struggling Student. This .pdf gives wonderful examples for how to assist a student who is having a difficult time. It talks about the importance of tone, evidence, and support. I quite like the suggestions and format of this article. It is a quick read given that it consists mainly of examples.

The second .pdf file is from Clemson and is a Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verbs. I like using this when setting goals for my students or learning objectives for the next assignment.


Blooms Taxonomy Action Verbs

I use Studio Thinking and the 8 Habits of Mind from Harvard’s Project Zero* to frame assessment. At times I will choose specific areas to emphasize during a project. I also encourage students to choose which areas they have strengths and weaknesses in. I ask that they share their strengths among their peers and deepen their understanding of their weakness while working to improve in that area. Being cognizant of one’s own thinking, learning style, and growth ultimately strengthens the learning process.

*From Project Zero

For a number of reasons, we recently had to move four of Project Zero’s project websites to new a new server, and new addresses. Please make sure to update your bookmarks for the following sites, and make sure to spread word among your colleagues as well.

Artful Thinking: www.pzartfulthinking.org

Causal Patterns: www.causalpatterns.org

Making Learning Visible: www.mlvpz.org

Visible Thinking: www.visiblethinkingpz.org


How do you assess student work in the art room? How do you feel about writing comments? What helps you? If you have any excellent resources please share them in the comment section. If anyone would like to see samples of comments and goals let me know.

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