Your child has brought home their report card. What does everything on it mean and how should you react to it… and the report cards they’ll be bringing home in the future? Look below to find out!

What do the letters mean?

A lot of schools these days don’t begin assigning the traditional A, B, C, D, and F until middle school. Instead, they use letters like:

  • N (Needs Improvement)
  • D (Developing)
  • M (Mastering)
  • E (Exceeding)

A subject area may be learned in one quarter/trimester or it may be an ongoing process. Therefore, seeing an N or a D doesn’t always mean your child is doing poorly.


How should you react?

Applaud anything that’s positive. Did your child improve in a subject area? Did they get a good grade in art? Whatever it is, acknowledge it.

How to read report cards


You never want to punish a child for their grades or their report cards. Make sure they take responsibility for the grade they earned by calmly discussing the things that need improvement. Ask them what they think needs to happen?

Finally, review with the teacher

Once you’ve had time to talk with your child, set a time to discuss the matter with the teacher(s). A teacher’s insight can provide a more defined picture of what is happening and why. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Do you see any particular problem areas my child has?
  • Does my child do well on class work and homework but not on tests?
  • Is my child easily distracted?
  • What can I, as a parent, do to help my child?

Once you get to the root of the problem, you can figure out a plan to get your child back on track. It may be as easy as moving his desk to the front row or providing a folder system to organize papers. The best laid plans are ones that involve you, your child, and the teacher. Good luck next time it’s report cards season!