Report cards and transcripts are either the joy or the affliction of every parent with school-age children. For the academically-inclined child, these reports can be like the pat on the back that they deserve from their excellent school year. However, for children who struggle with their academics or who have social or emotional issues that leave them struggling with various parts of the school year, these reports can be a reminder of all that went wrong. Parents of special education children may be wondering whether their children’s disabilities will negatively impact these yearly reviews.
First, it is important to understand the differences between report cards and transcripts. The report card usually comes out two or more times per year and is an indication to the student and his or her parents as to how the school year is going. However, the report card is not designed for other post-secondary institutions or employers to see. On the other hand, the transcript is an official listing of final grades and credits earned in a variety of subjects and is used by post-secondary institutions and employers to determine whether they should accept the individual. A report card may include information about the person’s behavior while the transcript usually only lists academic grades and achievements.
Once parents understand these general principles, they will understand better why report cards are allowed to list information about the child’s disability and the special education assistance that he or she received while the transcript is not. These guidelines are issued under nationwide anti-discrimination laws. The report card must show the parents how the child is progressing and what course or curricula he or she is receiving. On the other hand, the transcript is not designed to be seen by the parents. Instead, it is a factual document that only looks at black-and-white grades, numbers, and achievements.