Understanding High School Report Cards

When a child reaches high school, things get a bit more confusing
when it comes to reporting grades and understanding the child’s
progress. A parent working to understand the report card has to
know the code and language of the report card in order to chart
their child’s progress over the weeks, semesters and years.

Marking Periods
Also known as grading periods, your child’s school year is
likely broken into increments of six to nine weeks. At the end of
each marking period, the teacher totals up the grades, enters them
into the computer and an average for that marking period is formulated.
That grade is them entered on to the computer as the final average
for the marking period.

Semesters and Exams
While there are likely large exams at the end of each marking period,
the end of the semester, or the first and second half of the year,
is the most important benchmark testing dates. For courses that
are only one credit, or half of a full year, this semester exam
is a final exam. For other courses, it shows your child’s
progress half-way through the course. In many high schools, the
semester exam factors into a final average for the semester as heavily
as the average for a marking period. That is to say the nine weeks
exam and two marking periods average together to form the semester

A credit is given for each semester of a successfully completed
course. When a child passes a class with a C or D (depending on
the district), the student is awarded a credit for that semester.
If your child has six classes in the fall semester and passes each
one, he ends the semester with six credits. If he passes all of
his classes in the spring semester as well, he has a total of twelve
credits and qualifies to move on to the next year of school. Each
classification in high school in determined by credits, not age:
freshman, sophomore, juniors and seniors.

In most cases conduct grades do not factor into your child’s
average or GPA, but they can be important for selection in after
school programs or other extracurricular activities. Conduct grades
or symbols are an area parents should watch closely to determine
their child’s behavior in class and it how it affects learning.

The ongoing calculation of your child’s cumulative average
is called the GPA. Every grade your child receives is factored into
the GPA. Different schools offer grades different weights, but the
higher the grade, the more points it contributes to the overall
GPA. The GPA determines class rank and is often tied to scholarship