Now Reading: Why The F Are They Still Sending Us Report Cards??

Why The F Are They Still Sending Us Report Cards??

(originally written & published on February 26, 2013)

Sat 11:32pm — I was cleaning up my home office earlier this evening when I came across an envelope from Kyle’s school that the wife had previously opened and must’ve dumped in here a few weeks back.

I opened it up and it was his “report card” for the second “marking period”.

Back in the early days of autism we would’ve read something like that intently looking for a glimmer of hope or progress, but would almost always get depressed instead.

This time? I chuckled to myself when I realized what it was and how long it’s been sitting there.

The I tossed it aside into the toss it pile.

It wasn’t a specific written progress note from his speech teacher or his OT. And this wasn’t the kind of detailed report that you’d read from and reference in an IEP meeting. Those kinds of reports I would’ve paid a bit more attention to.

But this was almost like the equivalent of a typical 4th grader’s report card. Ok, maybe not a typical 4th grader’s report card but it’s still the kinda stuff that’s over my son’s head.

It’s got a numbered grading key.

And as usual for Kyle’s report cards, there’s always mostly 1’s or N/As on it.

Why even bother? Don’t even waste the postage.

Sorry to be so glib but why the F are they still sending us report cards for?

I guess I’m a jaded parent of a kid with severe autism…but we’ve been on this same autism roller coaster for a LONG time now.

And through those years the wife and I have hardened & toughened.

We love our kid and we know what he knows and what he doesn’t know.  My wife drives him to & from school every day and gets daily reports & feedback with his 1:1 aide.

So I’m fairly confident that there’s nothing in that report card that’s gonna surprise me or depress me or make me happy.

Oh wait, he’s at grade level and/or “Meeting Standards” for taking turns!!

That’s something, right?



I know, I know, the school has to send them… that’s the law, etc.  I got no beef with the school that Kyle goes to… I’m just a jaded, hardened ol’ severe autism dad… that’s all… 🙂


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Written by

Frank Campagna

I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).

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37 People Replies to “Why The F Are They Still Sending Us Report Cards??”

  1. Anonymous

    I still think its a big thing AD. with autism its the different very small, tiny things in development we notice and appreciate. Like that your son can handle and play with an ipad for instance. Or when you discover a character feature you havent seen before. The cards are a pain I agree but he scored a 3 for taking turns!!! Awesome!!!

  2. Anonymous

    I have a second grade NT child along with my fourth grade AS child who is around a first grade level. So my new challenge is putting weight on her report card while trying to brush off my son's. We get quarterly updates on his IEP which I find more helpful than a report card, but he wants to see the report card since his sister gets one.

  3. Anonymous

    my son will have 3 class's that allow him to be moving around with A's and the ones that he loves and finds easy but he must sit still he has big F's on them i just roll my eye's and fill it and say good job on the A's and talk to him about the F's he says he was board, he did the work but lost it or colored on the paper, or just wanted to play im like ok, go build something, what ever

  4. We received "report cards" for two years after DC left the high school at 18 (yes he was technically still in high school until 21) but he was in the high school's transition program at a local college. The report cards included subjects he was no longer taking and comments from teachers he no longer had. Yes, I know they HAVE to do it but let's not add insult to injury. (Let's talk about being automatically placed on the "Honor Roll" each semester)

  5. I am also a special education teacher in a self contained program for students with Autism. Our school does standards based grading, and grade with levels 1-4, just like above. Our IEP academic goals are aligned to the standards, even if they are many years behind. All that means is that each student has reading, math and writing goals, as well as goals that are pertinent for the individual child in other areas. I encourage goals that written based on where a child is functioning. None of my students are at grade level, or even approaching grade level, which makes these report cards useless. Before, when there were letter grades, I would give my students A's, B's, or C based on effort in that area, which I explained to parents at the start of school. Now, with standards based grading, I worked it out with my Principal to write pass or fail. Of course, all of my students pass. One of the reasons I enjoy teaching students with severe disabilities is the effort ALL of my students put into their work at school. 100% of my students try their best given their level of disability. Unfortunately, there is no way to convey that in these mandated report cards. I would hope teachers would let you know in other ways how well your child is progressing, good and bad.

  6. Anonymous

    As a special education teacher in a self contained classroom, reading these posts is upsetting. We work very hard to teach our students and help them reach their goals. The slightest bit of progress is exciting to me! Many things are done because it's the law but it's not the law that I work until 8:00 at night or on the weekends to catch up on paperwork or prepare lessons for the week. It is not the law that I went back to school to get my masters in special education because I'm passionate about working with kids with special needs. I know it's easy to become jaded with all of the pressures you have as parents but take time to step back and think, should I really get upset about a report card? I promise they are not being sent to you to upset you or show you how little progress your child has made. If you don't want to look at them, then don't but please don't bash us for doing our job. Believe me, we would much rather spend time working with your child than filling out a report card or any of the many other forms we are required to complete.

  7. people dont ditch the cards. As parents your immersed in your life with your kids and the cards no matter how fake you feel they may be allow you to see subtle differences that other people notice and you dont. If its really hacking you off complain to the school but do it in the form of a letter and copy in the local authority as this is logged and registered but dont just give up as at the end of the day your the one paying both financially physically and most importantly emotionally

  8. Anonymous

    LOL, Love this post. My son's teacher emailed me on Friday asking why he hadn't been doing his homework. I wrote back that he has therapy for 2 hours a day after school and I wasn't going to pay them to help him do his busy work. Then I wrote if you feel the need to give him a bad grade for homework, go ahead. Why do I care??? It's such a joke. Go ahead and fail him. And I love when teachers give him a 2 for effort. Like the PE teacher. You think he really knows what is going on in that class??? He has no idea! UGH I'm just as jaded as you are I guess.

  9. Anonymous

    It's a sure sign Government is still run by economists, they want to lump people together in a box it's the only way they can understand us, even for the so called normal kids this is simply the wrong approach, everyone is an individual and each and everyone has their own learning curve, stupid bureaucrats, so think a little bit harder the next time you vote.

  10. Anonymous

    We should always asses the child in view of his possessed strengths and weaknesses. No comparison with other kids, neither normal nor with another child with special needs. Just polish his strengths and work more on weaknesses with patience. Get maximum guidance from the professionals. ….it works.

  11. We been talking about this our selfs at home. They say Angel is about to turn 9 and she is on a K or 1st grade level. When we started to look into the RDI therapy for Angel we liked a lot of what they had to say, because we – like they were concerned with quality of life and her interaction skills more than how she looks on paper to the school board. This reminded me of my granny, no one said my granny had any disability but she only had a 3rd grade education. All she could do was sign her name. I made her bills out for her as a teenager growing up because she couldn't. Even with my grannys lack of education she was good at math and with money. She had a good quality of life. She had friends – she had family – my grandad watched over her and when he died we did. She could fish and can and cook. She had no problem functioning in life except when they changed the boxes in the grocery store – use to piss her off – people who can't read rely on how and item looks to find it. I bet marketers didn't even think about that when they changed it. So I started going with her later to the grocery store to make sure she got what she was looking for. So I am hoping that as Angel progresses in life eventually she can have the quality of life my granny had to some degree. You don't have to be the smartest knife in the drawer to have a good life – in my opinion. I hope Angel reaches a degree that allows her some freedom to choose for herself and be something without education being a main factor.

    On that note even though Angel is non verbal still for the most part at age 9. If she wants to do something she will go to you tube and pull it up. She pulled up a video of how to dye ester eggs for easter…lol. Anytime she wants to do something that she don't have pecs for she finds a video on you tube. We also noticed her trying to spell words on her note pad program on her IPAD.

  12. When I get report cards, I skim them to see if the teacher left me any notes. Otherwise, I just don't pay attention to the numbers. I already know what it is going to say. He lacks "blah blah blah blah". Yes, thank you. I knew that already.

  13. Anonymous

    because some parents would complain that they are not being treated the same by not getting a report card.

  14. Anonymous

    We have a child with specific learning disabilities (dyslexia) and in the process of identifying whether or not he has ADD. he's in 2nd grade He gets ALOT of 2's on his report card and a sprinkling of 3's in reading and math. They want to retain him. He has an IEP. I asked the school Sp.Ed. teacher if 2's were considered failing and she said no. Seems odd. I am currently confused. Wondering if the report card has to be all 3's and 4's to pass. Wondering what educators have told any of you.

  15. Anonymous

    I am also annoyed and like that there are other parents out there like me…except mine is different on that he gets straight As with circle arts them meaning special ed..I would rather see cs with circles around then atleast then I would know maybe teacher took 5 second instead of two to think about it…

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  18. It is funny that you are posting this now. I just received my daughter's report card today, she has Asperger's syndrome. She has had a horrendous year, where she has learned absolutely nothing, and they send home a report card, and on the front is NEEDS IMPROVEMENT for every single behaviour. She has actually never gotten this before, usually she had a few Satisfactory, or Goods, this time, they gave her all N's. Then the rest of the report card was not filled out except for language, which they say they are teaching her, and they gave her an A, but they didn't evaluate her.

    Not sure why they are sending these things home? How does it help us as parents to help our children. How is this building our child up? All it does is point out on paper, how she is not doing well.

    My husband and I decided to ignore the first page all together and tell our daughter, how wonderful we thought she was doing in language! LOL Thanks for your past, always authentic and straightforward, love them.

  19. I used to get pissed about the same thing! Really, what is the point…the point is so the school an prove they are following the law and meeting goals on the IEP. Which for me is the reason they always set the goals close to what she has "mastered" anyway. I used to think it was me just being bitchy and irrational but, now I'm certain it really is idiotic! Thanks for clearing that up for me 😉

  20. Anonymous

    All a report card do for me is remind me that I can demand whatever I want attend every IEP the fact is he will never catch up and will need to depend on me forever an ever. He will never be excepted by ppl with his behavior's and diapers.If I be honest he come to school to give me a break because it's the only place I can send him that will or have to except him and they call often. No I don't need to or want to see a report card to slap me in the face with what I already know,he'll never be on the honor roll,ask me to use the car,go on a date and never play sports,be in the band etc..The fact that only those being pay will deal with him hurt and hurt back.

    1. Anonymous

      Exactly how I feel. Watch out here comes the b.s. police…" God only gives you what you can handle "and "special people get Special kids" blah blah blah. BM or KMA!

  21. 90% of the time, report cards are a "no shit sherlock" type of information, but once in while they are useful, such as when needed for independent confirmation or as a developmental milestone marking he was functioning at this level on this date, years later this may be important.
    As a 15 year foster parent of several autistic children and others, I can't emphasize enough the anon comment made at 6:58 AM above: "I had no idea my son new these things- it took a fantastic teacher to get it out of him."
    Your child's progress in a program is mostly attributable to the talent and enthusiasm of the people working with him.


  22. Anonymous

    I know exactly what you mean with the report card. I value so much more the daily notes I get from my daughter's case manager, along with the IEP updates. The district where I work is moving toward communication on an ongoing basis, rather than putting so much emphasis on a report card. For most kids, the report card is too late in getting parents information about progress; in my case, it says nothing. Most of it is blank except for information from the specialists (art, music, phy ed). I can't imagine getting any thing useful out a middle school report card next year!

  23. Anonymous

    Please don't throw them aside… they are Kyle's. I know it is hard to see them, I feel the same way, but I am still proud of my daughter for doing the 'smallest' things. She is who she is and I am PROUD of who she is. Be proud of Kyle's reports – he is a wonderful young man. Love to you and your family.

  24. Anonymous

    My autistic son is not in school yet and I started to find reports immediately depressing back at 12 months old. So I don't think I will find report cards any different, but I am also an elem school teacher (specialist) and I find grading special needs children more uncomfortable than nearly anyone else. What is right? fair? accurate? Do we grade the child based on the above rubric, which means they can never attain a 3? Do we grade them based on their personal work ability? And what that mean depending on the child? Comments are going to be more valuable than a number for any kid, but depending on your case load (mine at 550), I can't give every child written feedback. Teachers need to learn how to make more positive comments (especially towards our sped population) and SPED parents need to start coming to meet their teachers. ALL of their teachers. SPED parents should feel comfortable talking to their child's teachers. Nothing is more annoying than hearing from a SPED teacher. I experienced that in the high school environment too. If you have a question or concern, contact the adult that created the assignment, has the rule, etc. Don't be afraid and don't ask your SPED case manager to talk to the art, phyed or music teacher 🙂

  25. Anonymous

    Its funny because our IEP "team" uses the report cards to lie about how much progress he is making.

  26. Anonymous

    Ive been tossing my sons evals and progress reports aside for years, Just cant bare to read how crappy hes doing.Hubby and I decided to sign him up for 10 private speach classes that is covered by insurance.Hes 14 and weve never taken advantage of this before- anyway, im sitting wirh him & the therapist, first time, and the therapist gets all his picture cards out and starts asking michael tons of questions really fast , and my son is getting them all right.I almost fell over- this therapist that we stumbled apon was amazing, I had no idea my son new these things- it took a fanrastic teacher to get it out of him.

    1. Anonymous

      I am happy you have finally been able to enjoy such a positive experience with your son. That teacher seems to have chosen his profession well. Congratulations on making this decision and for sharing it with others who may likewise be able to benefit from it.

  27. I dread them. DS is so low functioning he has NO idea. But they ALWAYS make me cry. And not out of happiness. In the pile it goes. [sigh] Sorry, Blondie (above). – Cathy

  28. Anonymous

    When my son was in public school I would go to the parent teacher conference but I would tell teacher i don't want to see the report card. There is no point. Who the hell wants to be reminded your kid is way below grade level. I just threw them in trash the other times. The good thing about non public school…. no reports cards!!!

  29. theblondeview

    I find this all very upsetting, from where I stand. If you ever need to be in serious negotiations, Mediation (informal, formal, or pre-Due Process), or in Due Process proceedings with your child's School District, having "official Report Cards" can be crucial.

    Besides, Report Cards are keepsakes. We aren't going to keep every Communication Log, every Therapist's Eval & Report, every Standardized/Alternate Test Result Repot, etc.

    Try not to give up on placing this type of importance on Kyle's things….the things EVERY kid gets!

  30. I totally agree with everything you posted…. Report cards, iep expectations etc.etc… my daughter is 9 with mild autism diagnosed last may… As long as she's happy I'm happy, grades mean nothing.. She's made social progress & communicating better now, that's an A from me … Each little thing of any progress is better than none… 🙂

  31. I'm with you on this one. We've asked ourselves the same question. I guess they're required to thats all….regardless how of meaningless it seems. I honestly take 100% more stock in the daily communication notebook sent to and from school daily in his back pack. Realtime progress reports I call them.

  32. Anonymous

    My 17 year old gets report cards with straight A's on it despite the fact that he's working at a 3rd grade level…and he's so innocent & naive to believe he's 'really smart'!!!

    1. Anonymous

      if thats what he thinks, then let him. my 9y/o son thinks by saying "indeed" that makes him older and smarter.