The progress report card that summarises a student's performance level has evolved with time. It no more categorises students as ‘average', ‘poor', ‘excellent' or ‘good.'

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), for instance, through the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) has come out with specific guidelines called “descriptive indicators” for teachers on how to comment on a student's performance in both scholastic and non-scholastic areas. The teachers' manual asks them not to “label learners as slow, poor or intelligent.” It also cautions them against making comparisons or giving negative statements.

Bharathi Venkat, Class IX student of a CBSE school, says from this academic year most students in her class are more relaxed and confident about taking the report card home.

Many teachers think such changes in the report card have brought in more uniformity and made it student-friendly.

“For teachers who are not proficient in the language, the descriptive indicators provide an appropriate choice of words,” says Meenakshi Venkat, who teaches English at P.S. Senior Secondary School.

Teachers say that earlier parents of students who are weak in academics would get angry and disappointed on seeing their ward's report card, since the remarks were mainly on academics. “Now, we include feedback about the student's performance in co-curricular activities and sports too,” says Ms.Venkat.

Some matriculation schools have also been following a similar system to bring about a positive change on the psyche of the children. “We restrain from giving negative comments to students and try motivating them,” S. Anandaraj Abraham, Science teacher, MCC Higher Secondary School.

According to D. Kumaran, Head, Department of Education, University of Madras, “When teachers mark students as average or poor, there is no systematic scaling. So, teachers should give encouraging observations.”

Parents too seem to be happy. “Rather than receiving feedback about academics alone, we are now able to understand where my children stand in each area and identify their strengths,” says Soundaram Venkat, a parent.

However, some teachers are of the opinion that such a system is time consuming and would have a “converse impact” on the child. The students would not be able to take criticism in the right sense, they say.