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Study: 'Daily Report Cards' Improve Behavior of Students With ADHD

Getting report cards once every six, eight, or 10 weeks is probably too often for some students. How about every day?

So-called "daily report cards" appear to improve the behavior of students with ADHD, a new What Works Clearinghouse review of a study concludes.

Teachers create daily report cards that are lists of target behaviors and behavior goals for students that are aligned with their special education plans. Teachers in this 2010 study used them to provide students with constant feedback, and they were sent home to parents every day. Parents had to reward or punish students based on the results of the daily report card.

The study, involving 63 elementary school students, found there were statistically significant positive differences between students whose teachers used the daily report cards and another group of students, at least when it came to students' behavior. That included improvements in their productivity and violating fewer classroom rules. The report cards didn't have a statistically significant effect on students' achievement in reading or math.

Although this study sounds small, the What Works Clearinghouse said it was a well-implemented randomized controlled trial.

Often, the education plans of students with disabilities are updated just once a year, and in many cases, students are not present at those meetings. Goals are adjusted just at that one meeting, and it may be one of the few times a year parents get detailed feedback about their child, as this blog post notes. Daily report cards require a lot more involvement from parents and far more feedback from teachers.

The majority of students in the sample were white and male and had ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder. The students in the control group didn't get daily feedback from their teachers, nor did parents know what was going on in class day to day. Instead, their families got the more typical, infrequent information many students with disabilities receive.

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