Alternative Curriculum Reporting

It is that time of year again when everyone gets to do their favourite part of teaching….. Report card writing!! Woohoo!!

When I began my job as a teacher of students with Developmental Disabilities three years ago, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to write on my student’s reports. All of my students were working towards Alternative expectations on their IEPs and the reporting on the goals was much different than I was used to doing.  It was the first time that I developed Alternative Expectations (expectations that are developed to help students acquire skills that are not in the Ontario curriculum) and the first time I reported on them at the completion of first term. The ministry of Education explains that “for the vast majority of students, these (alternative) programs would be given in addition to modified or regular grade–level expectations from the Ontario curriculum.” In my students case, they have completely alternative IEPs.

In Ontario, there are five categories of Exceptionalities: Behaviour, Communication, Intellectual, Physical and Multiple. Some of these categories have more than one exceptionality under its umbrella, resulting in a total of twelve exceptionalities as outlined by the Ministry of Education. My students who have a Developmental Disability fall under the Intellectual umbrella along with Giftedness and Mild Intellectual Disabilities.

After consulting with parents, guardians, previous IEPs, Occupational Therapist reports, Speech and Language Reports, other staff and Psychoeducational Assessments,  I created goals that my students focused on for the first term of school. For some students, the goal changed many times throughout the term as we made it more challenging or complex because the child mastered the initial goal. For other students, the goal had to be altered completely to meet their changing needs. When preparing to write the report card, I gathered all the assessment that we as a team had gathered and used the evidence to write a comment that reflected the student’s progress.

After three years in my role, I am no expert by any means, but maybe the comments I have used may help give you some ideas of how to start.

Here are some comments for some areas of the Alternative Curriculum:


_____ regularly initiates conversation with students online and in the classroom. ___ is working on listening closely to others responses and respond to questions that they have asked. ____ is beginning to be able to express her feelings in detail in the classroom.

_________continues to be able to communicate confidently with staff and students online and in person. ___ has improved in his ability to add his own thoughts and questions to conversations and no longer relies on a model to share his experiences and interests. _______ began Speech and Language online sessions in the Winter of 2020 with a focus on improving ______’s articulation. He has adjusted well to the format of the focused sessions and is very committed to improving.

_________ has improved a lot in her ability to express how she is feeling throughout the day at school. She is able to ask for breaks when she is tired or thirsty and confidently shares when she is having a difficult morning. Her ability to express her feelings has helped her to be more focused in class. ______ has gained more confidence throughout this school year and is now able to ask for assistance from multiple people in the classroom.


_______ had a very successful term two. He was able to stay calm and focused by using his strategy board when he felt anxious with minimal prompting from staff. During online learning, he used some deep breaths when he felt overwhelmed and remained very calm and focused.

With minimal teacher support, ________ has made significant improvements in her/his self regulation when upset or frustrated.  The use of a calming space with student selected staff, allowed ______ time to use tools to help manage her emotions throughout the day. Using a first then choice board, _______ was beginning to comply with more requests throughout the day.

Fine Motor/Gross Motor:

________ printing has improved this term. It is more clear and easy to read. ___ spent much of the term writing for specific purposes such as letters to all of her friends at home. ____ is able to use scissors well to cut paper activities and is working on completing lacing activities accurately. Currently, he is able to lace straight lines consistently and is working on lacing curved shapes.

________ is completing 3 to 5 laps of the interior of the school every day on his bike. He rides the bike with fluid motion and lots of energy. _______ with consistent support and encouragement is beginning to go up and down the stairs of the school 3 times a week.

Functional Academics:

______ can count to 100 with 80% accuracy. She sometimes need assistance with the numbers 60, 70 80 and 90. She is able to demonstrate one-to-one correspondence up to 20. When __________takes her time, her accuracy increases and she is able to demonstrate one-to-on correspondence up to 20

____ has expanded his list of words that he can recognize in a variety of texts. The words include, but are not limited to: a, and, big, blue, can, funny, go, here, I, is, in, it, jump, little, look, me, my, play, red, run, said, see, the, to, up, we, yellow, you. ____ is also able to sound out unfamiliar short words with 86% accuracy. _____ loves to write and happily learns new words to write every week.

______  showed great commitment to learning some new sight words this term. She identified them 90% of the time using the Olwein method of instruction which worked very well for her. She also thoroughly enjoyed playing games with the words. She can identify the 5 sight words Cars 3, school, colour, her name and run in a variety of contexts. ______ was also able to trace and copy many personally relevant words for a variety of purposes such as writing letters to her friends who are learning at home.

______ can say the numbers in order from 1-12. She can recognize the numbers 1, 2 and 3 100% of the time and can identify 4 and 5 50% of the time. She is able to demonstrate 1- to-1 correspondence on the numbers 1, 2 and 3 with 50% accuracy.

Social Skills:

_________ requires consistent redirection and cues to treat others with respect and kindness. With these supports has begun to show improvement. She continues to respond well to reminders and will use phrases such as “thank you or you’re welcome” when prompted.

_______ awareness of personal space has improved consistently this year. ______ has used visual tools/cues to check how close she can sit beside someone during whole class gatherings

Reporting Time


It is that time again, or maybe the first time for you – writing reports. It seems to loom over us as the due date for reports approaches. Yet, it isn’t always as insurmountable as it seems. Here are some tips for assessing, organizing, and preparing reports:

  • Create at-a-glance observation pages. These can be created in a grid or a list. Organize students in boxes or lists alphabetically by first name only. Print the observation sheets in a different colour than white, and put about 10 copies on 3 to 4 clipboards. Now they are handy to pick up and record what you notice, hear, see, throughout the day. If you prefer, you can title them to focus your observations, such as Learning Skills or Math skills. When writing reports it is easy to flip through a pile, looking at the same location on each page for anecdotal notes or examples to include in your reports.
  • Self-assessment. Provide time and guidance for student’s to self-assess particular work or their learning skills. It also beneficial to work on goal-setting and reflect on their goals prior to the end of each reporting period. These self-assessments can be useful when writing about their learning skill development.
  • Take photos. Using a smart phone or iPad to take many photos throughout the day can be valuable when writing reports (there are also apps for documenting student work, such as ThreeRing or Sesame). Often, you see students collaborating or participating in photos that you may not have realized during the activity. This happened for me when we had a guest dance instructor in the classroom. I took video and photos throughout the workshop. When I reviewed the video before writing reports I was surprised to see that the students I considered reluctant in dance, were actually dancing!
  • Record marks and brief comments. When I record marks in my assessment binder, I also add a brief comment. For example, after recording the students’ marks for a math test, I add a brief comment such as “doesn’t understand concept (knowledge)” or “needs work on communicating ideas” or “learning to apply…”. Then, when it comes time to write a comment for math in the reports, I have a quick reference that I can use to personalize the comment and the next steps for learning.
  • Maintain student portfolios. Use a crate or plastic bin for files. Make one folder for student and file all tests and work samples. Refer to the file when writing reports to have specific pieces as examples. Then return work to students and start anew for the next assessment period.
  • Build comments. Build subject specific or learning skill comments using brackets or *** to be filled in with comments and examples that are unique to each student. Cutting and pasting the same comment using only modifiers forces students to fit into a high, medium, or low category that may not best represent them.
  • Prepare for interviews. Before parent interviews, review the reports and jot down a few strengths and needs in a notebook (I organize one page per student) to guide your discussion. Then, make notes regarding any comments or concerns the parent offers, as well as any follow-up accommodations or communications you need to do. Then, you have these notes to refer to in any meetings that follow or for your next reporting period.
Finding your own routine of organizing and preparing for report, will help to ease the stress that report writing often brings.