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How to Read a Middle School Progress Report

March 23, 2022 | Shakeh Tashjian

How to Read a Progress Report

With the addition of letter grades to the Middle School progress reports, some families have wondered how to interpret the different kinds of information regarding their child’s progress.  Below are some ways to know how your child is doing.

Learner Portrait

The Learner Portrait is a narrative report that is more holistic.  Teachers will share information about their observations of the student’s development of the Twenty Habits of Heart and Mind, Learning, and Work.  They will support those observations with examples from the child’s classwork and participation.  Teachers will balance comments about strengths with notes regarding a student’s weaker areas or challenges.  They will name some goals for students.

Learning Continuum–A Proficiency Scale

The Learning Continuum section of the progress report will contain marks that show progress toward learning standards, which are learning goals that have been agreed upon by various educational organizations or institutions and are adopted and adapted by our school.   Remember, learning is a process. It’s not automatic or immediate. 

These marks show you where your child is along the way in each specific skill or concept. Think of learning to ride a bicycle. 

  • 1 is B (BEGINNING) In the beginning stages of learning, a student needs training wheels.  They often review where to put their hands and feet. They practice taking off and balancing, but they are not secure in riding on their own. 

  • 2 is C (CONSOLIDATING) A child at this level is making progress toward the target, still moving along the continuum toward proficiency.  The child is moving but may be a little wobbly.  They improve with practice and guidance.

  • 3 is D (DEVELOPING)   Meeting expectations is the goal.  A student who is developing is riding along smoothly.  They consistently maneuver around objects in the road and keep moving along the path toward the next level of skills, but falls may still happen.  

  • 4 is P (PROFICIENT)  Exceeding expectations is evident. They are confident and taking initiative to apply the understanding in a new way, attempting and mastering jumps and other challenges.  At this point, they are working independently and can communicate effectively.

Learning Continuum–Letter Grades

In addition to the numeric marks used to report student progress on learning goals, students in grades 6 – 8 earn letter grades based on their academic performance on projects, tests, and other assignments. This letter grade is NOT a direct conversion from the numeric marks. While there is no formula, there is a range that can be expected. If a student excels in every aspect of a class, it makes sense that she or he would be successful on the assessments.


Should I Worry?  

For every concept or skill, a student will begin at the beginning, develop and grow through practice, and eventually acquire proficiency. For every student, some concepts and skills are more difficult to learn than others. So, the answer to this question is very individual. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to the teacher or Program Director for a more individualized and detailed conversation.

Learner Portrait Goals

When reading the Learner Portrait, keep an eye on trends.  Your child’s previous progress reports can be found in Blackbaud if you would like to compare terms or track progress.  If an area mentioned as a goal in the first term is still a goal in the second term, or if there is no mention of growth in an area that was mentioned as a notable goal last term, it may be a sign that there is an area of learning where your child needs extra support.

As you read, also look for key phrases like:

  • Would benefit from extra practice…
  • Needs teacher help in order to…
  • Should continue to work at home on…

These are the cues for the ways you can support learning and development toward proficiency at home.  If a plan is not already in place, check in with teachers for resources about activities and practice that could be utilized at home or to see what extra support might be available at school.  

Shakeh Tashjian

Director of Grades Two-Eight

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