Teacher comments have long been provided alongside academic grades to recognize the essential role of many abilities and competencies in academic performance and future potential. And we know that academic ability and potential are not always directly related. We have all served on committees with colleagues who are extremely smart but not productive members of the team -- indeed, their actions often impede the collective work. In the world that our students will enter as adults, there can be no either/or of academic or social-emotional and character competencies. Students require both/and. Therefore, feedback about students in schools must incorporate both aspects, systematically and carefully.
In The Other Side of the Report Card: Assessing Students' Social, Emotional, and Character Development, Ferrito, Moceri, and Elias analyzed report card comments and they found many flaws in the current system. Taking what they learned, they provided a downloadable guide for you to analyze your own report card's comment section.
We know that our students' social-emotional and character development is essential for their success in school and life. Since it matters so much, we should give serious thought to assessing it in ways that are much better aligned with theory, research, and practical utility than our current report card comment systems allow.