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The Report Card

The Report Card

4.3 156
by Andrew Clements

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Nora Rose Rowley is a genius, but don't tell anyone.

Nora's managed to make it to the fifth grade without anyone figuring out that she's not just an ordinary kid, and she wants to keep it that way.
     But then Nora gets fed up with the importance everyone attaches to test scores and grades, and she purposely brings home a


Nora Rose Rowley is a genius, but don't tell anyone.

Nora's managed to make it to the fifth grade without anyone figuring out that she's not just an ordinary kid, and she wants to keep it that way.
     But then Nora gets fed up with the importance everyone attaches to test scores and grades, and she purposely brings home a terrible report card just to prove a point. Suddenly the attention she's successfully avoided all her life is focused on her, and her secret is out. And that's when things start to get really complicated....

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"With subtlety and authority, Clements explores the plight of an extraordinarily intelligent girl, who from an early age, has strategically hidden her genius from her parents, peers and teachers," PW wrote in a starred review. Ages 8-12. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Nora Rowley has a secret not even her family knows about: she's a genius. She has purposely maintained average grades and played down her intelligence because she doesn't want people to treat her differently. Now that she's in the fifth grade where they are given letter grades—grades that matter—Nora does not like the competition she observes between her classmates, and the way grades can make people feel and act better or worse than others. When her best friend, Stephen, starts to believe that his average grades mean he is dumb, Nora develops a plan to teach Stephen, her classmates, and everyone that you can not measure intelligence by testing and grades alone. As the first step of her plan, Nora brings home a horrible report card that triggers a series of events that do not unfold the way Nora had anticipated, but do ultimately get people thinking and talking about grades. Along the way, Nora learns a lot about herself and that she is not the only one who sees imperfections in the testing and grading system. This is a thought-provoking book that will surely get readers thinking right along with the characters about what grades and testing really measure. The conclusion of this story was disappointing in that it ended too early. How Nora changes is evident, but what will change—if anything—for this class, their competitiveness, and the testing and grading system at large remains to be seen. 2004, Simon & Schuster, Ages 8 to 12.
— Jennifer Chambliss
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Fifth-grader Nora Rowley has a problem with grades, and her latest report card, with five D's and one C, proves it. What nobody knows because she's kept it a secret is that she is really a genius and has earned those low marks on purpose because of her friend Stephen. She doesn't like the way tests make him feel about himself (dumb); plus, she can do without the stress as teachers prepare students for the state achievement test. The plan she hatches to sabotage test scores eventually begins to backfire, and the plot develops steadily around that crisis. Narrated by a very bright protagonist, the story has moments of engaging tension: Will the librarian disclose that Nora has been accessing college-level courses online? Will the school psychologist discover her high IQ and place her in the gifted program? Will she and Stephen be suspended for inciting a rebellion? This novel highlights the controversial issues of testing and grades from a child's point of view, but it also reveals the pressure that everyone, including teachers, administrators, and parents, feels. Clements's style, the large print, and the appealing cover illustration will easily capture the attention of even the most reluctant readers.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A fifth-grade girl genius, who has been fooling her parents and teachers by pretending to be a mediocre student, decides to protest the school culture of tests and testing. Genius Nora Rowley is disturbed because her best friend Stephen, who she thinks is the smartest, kindest boy in school, suddenly believes he's dumb just because he didn't score well on an academic assessment test. Upset by Stephen's reaction and the validity of testing in general, Nora tries getting D's on her report card, then later, with Stephen's help, concocts a rebellion among students in which they all flunk their next exam. A polemic for kids, Clements takes on the multifaceted subject of the relationship between a number on a test, student self-esteem, and real-life smarts. Although the ideas presented are provocative, germane, and genuinely worthy, the scenario is highly unlikely and the reader can hear the author's voice speaking through the characters a bit too plainly. (Fiction. 8-12)
From the Publisher
Kirkus Review Grabs hold of your heart and never lets go

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
700L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Four: The Reading of the Grades

My mom had made a fantastic meal and we ate in the dining room. Steak and baked potatoes and green beans and a fresh fruit salad and hot rolls and butter and strawberry jelly. There was a white tablecloth and lace placemats and tall green candles and the best silverware. Even cloth napkins.

We always had great food on report card day. No meatloaf. No macaroni and cheese. No tuna-noodle casserole. Not on report card day.

Then came dessert, also wonderful. Apple crisp made with fresh apples from the orchard over on Route 27. Plus vanilla ice cream.

But I wasn't that hungry. It reminded me of the last meal they serve to a prisoner before an execution.

After the dessert dishes were cleared away, we were all sitting at the table, and my mom said, "All right, who wants to be first to read a report card tonight?"

It was a pointless question. The Reading of the Grades was a well-established ritual. It followed a definite pattern. Ann always read her grades first, then Todd, and then me.

Ann said, "I'll go first." No smile. Ann was all business.

It was Ann's junior year in high school. Ann is tall, blond, athletic, and intense. Kind of pretty, too. People say I look like her, except I'm not tall. And my hair's more reddish than blond. And I try not to be intense. So I guess those people who say we look alike are crazy.

Ann had been elected junior-class president. She was cocaptain of the girl's field hockey team and the girls' basketball team. She had been the youngest member of last year's Math Decathlon, and the team had placed first in the state competition. Ann was taking two Advanced Placement classes and the rest were honors classes. She was trying to graduate from high school a semester early. She wanted to get a scholarship to Georgetown University and study international relations. Intense is the right word.

Mom smiled and said, "All right, Ann. Let's hear how you did."

Ann unfolded her computer-printed grade sheet. I knew what was coming. Everyone knew what was coming.

Ann began reading. "Honors Chemistry, A plus. Honors English, A. A.P. World History, A. A.P. Physics, A plus. Phys Ed, A plus. Mixed Chorus, A plus. And an A minus in Drivers Education, but that won't count in my class rank."

"That's terrific, Annie!" My dad's smile made him look like a piano. He said, "Not much room for improvement, and that's the way it ought to be. Great! Just great!"

Mom said, "You should be very proud of yourself, Ann. All your hard work is really paying off." Then turning to my side of the table, Mom said, "Okay, who's next — Nora or Todd?"

Another pointless question. Never in his life had Todd let me do anything ahead of him. He said, "I'm next."

Todd was in eighth grade. He had lots of friends and lots of interests, like mountain biking and snowboarding and playing electric guitar and being a 1960s rock-and-roll trivia nut. Todd's school sport was soccer, but he wasn't a star player — which is what I am. And that's not bragging about my soccer playing. That's just a fact. Schoolwork wasn't easy for Todd, especially reading. But Mom and Dad kept after him, so he worked pretty hard, and his grades usually showed it.

Todd cleared his throat, glanced at Dad and then at Mom, gulped once, pushed his straight, brown hair up off his forehead, and then began to read. Todd always read his best grades first. "Gym class, A plus. Math, A minus. Science, B...uh, no, I mean it's a B plus. Social Studies, B. And a B minus in English...but I was only two points away from a plain B."

Mom and Dad nodded thoughtfully for a moment, and then Mom said, "Well, that's a pretty good report, Todd. But I don't think it's really the best you can do, is it? Especially that B minus in English. I'd think you'd be a little disappointed with that. At the conference last month Mrs. Flood said you need to spend more time with your writing, and you need to take your outside reading assignments more seriously. Don't you think that would help?"

Todd nodded and said, "Yeah, I guess. But still, Mom, I got a B average and that's good. You should see Tom's grades."

"But we're not talking about Tom." Dad was not smiling. "We're talking about you. You're almost in high school now, and you've got to start being more serious. Grades like that might get you into a state school, or into a little college somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. But those grades wouldn't get you into a good college. No way. Time to get down to business. Agreed?"

Todd made a sheepish face and nodded. "Yeah. Okay. I'll...I'll do better. I will."

And then all eyes swung to me.

My cheeks felt hot. I hadn't planned well for this part. I had thought reading my grades out loud wouldn't be a problem. But it was.

Before Mom could ask, I said, "I don't want to read them. Don't try to tell me that my fifth-grade grades are important, because I know for a fact that they aren't. And they're all based on a bunch of stupid information that anybody with half a brain can memorize. Tests and grades and all of it — it's all...just stupid."

Shocked silence.

Then in a calm voice my dad said, "Please read your grades to us, Nora."

I shook my head. "You can look at them if you want to. But I'm not going to read them. My grades are my business, and nobody else's."

My dad started to say something, but Mom cut in and said, "Nora, I know this may be hard for you, but it's important. You're in fifth grade now. You have to get used to the fact that grades do matter. They matter a lot. So please, read your grades. We know everybody's different, and not everyone's going to do as well as everyone else. We're not comparing you to Todd or Ann or anybody. We just want to be able to talk about school and how you're doing, talk about it as a family."

I didn't budge. "There's nothing to talk about. May I please be excused?"

That was too much for my dad. "No!" he shouted. "You may not be excused! You're not leaving this table until you have read your grades out loud to your family!"

I put my sealed report card on the middle of my placemat. "Fine," I said. "Sit here as long as you like. But I'm not reading my grades."

A long three minutes passed in silence. Then I folded my arms and put my head down on the table.

Todd cleared his throat and said, "Dad, Tommy's mom is gonna be here in ten minutes. She's driving us to the movies and I've got to get ready. So may I be excused? Please? And could I have my allowance?"

Five minutes after that I was alone at the table.

Around nine-thirty I pulled three chairs together so I could lie down. I kicked my shoes off, moved a bunch of things out of the way, and slid the tablecloth toward me so I could use it like a blanket.

I'd been asleep, so I'm not sure what time it was. But it was later and I heard my mom say, "Carry her up to bed, Jim. She's won this round, and we might as well admit it."

I kept my eyes shut.

My dad said, "Yup. She can be a tough little cookie, all right. She'd make a great lawyer, I bet. Except first she'd have to get into law school somewhere."

I heard the sound of ripping paper. And I knew what it was. He was opening my report card.

I heard him pull in a sharp breath, and then, "My gosh! No wonder Nora wouldn't read this! Look, Carla — all Ds! Everything but spelling, and that's a C!"

"Goodness!" That was Mom. "I don't believe it! How did this happen?"

Dad said, "Well, let's shake her and sit her up right here and find out!"

Mom said, "No, Jim, not now. Poor child — think how ashamed she must feel about such terrible marks. Just take her upstairs. We can talk about it tomorrow."

I felt the tablecloth slip off my back and legs, and then Dad's strong arms lifted me up.

It had been a long time since my dad had carried me up to bed.

I heard my mom behind us on the stairs. "Careful you don't bang her head on anything."

And my dad said softly, "With grades like those, it prob'ly couldn't hurt."

Mom said, "That's not funny."

I was glad they didn't try to get me into my pajamas because I'm sure it would have tickled. My mom just peeled off my socks, tucked the quilt up under my chin, kissed me softly on the forehead, and then closed my door.

I opened my eyes and stared into the darkness.

I wondered if I had done enough thinking about my plan. Because first I had tried to think about what I wanted to accomplish, and then I had tried to think of all the steps I had to take, and how my steps would lead to the steps other people would take. I had done a lot of thinking, and that's something I've gotten good at.

But had I thought of every single thing that could go wrong at every single step, and had I thought of enough ways to get around each possible problem?

Lying there in the dark, I faced a fact: I wouldn't know if my plan would work until it did. Or didn't.

Copyright © 2004 by Andrew Clements

Chapter Five: Solitary Confinement

Ann and Todd were still in bed when I walked into the kitchen on Saturday morning. My parents were sitting at the table with their coffee mugs. I could tell they had been waiting for me.

I didn't like this part of the plan. This part of the plan was going to be pretty hard on Mom and Dad. And so were some other parts. It wasn't really fair to them, but it couldn't be helped. After all, I wasn't the one who had made up the rules around here.

Mom didn't even say "good morning." She said, "We opened your grade report last night, Nora."

My dad shook his head and growled, "Never seen such bad grades in my life — even on my report cards."

I said, "I don't want to talk about it. You saw the grades. I got Ds. And one C. Those are my grades. I don't want to talk about it."

"Nora, please," Mom said. "There must be a reason you got such awful grades. Are you unhappy? Have the children at school been teasing you? Have you been feeling sick? Or is it something else?"

I shook my head as I scanned the row of cereal boxes on the counter. I poured some cornflakes into a bowl and said, "I don't want to talk about it, Mom. I got the grades I got, and that's all there is to it."

Dad exploded. "'All there is to it'?! Well, then you're grounded, young lady! And that's all there is to it! You don't want to spill the beans and let us help you out, then that's the way it is. You can just sit in your room until you decide to cooperate."

I munched my cereal, swallowed, and took a sip of orange juice. I said, "Fine by me." Then I said, "Am I allowed to read, or do I have to sit in the corner and look at the flowers on the wallpaper?" Which was a lot sassier than usual. But that was part of the plan too.

Mom put a hand on Dad's arm. She said, "Nora, don't be disrespectful. You know better than that. And you know us better than that too. We only want to help you. But first you've got to help us."

I looked at them. "But I don't want any help. Did I ask you to come to school and take my tests for me? Did I ask you to read my assignments for me? Or do my homework? I don't need help."

They didn't talk anymore and neither did I. After my last spoonful of cereal, I tipped up my bowl and drank the milk. I wiped the milk off my upper lip, laid my napkin on the table, got up, and put my bowl and spoon and glass into the dishwasher. Then I said, "I'll be up in my room."

I spent the rest of Saturday reading the article on the history of China in the Britannica. It was a long article. I'd been chipping away at it for almost a week and I was only up to a.d. 1368, the beginning of the Ming Dynasty. It felt good to have some forced reading time.

I was allowed out of my room for meals, and on Sunday morning I went to church with everyone, but then it was right back to my cell.

At about eight o'clock on Sunday night my mom came in and sat down on the edge of my bed where I was reading. I knew why she'd come. It was time to get ungrounded. The way I figured, unless you're a teenager with places to go and friends to go with and money to spend when you get there, grounding is a pretty pointless punishment.

And sure enough, Mom's first words were, "Nora, your father and I have decided that your grounding is over. But I don't want you to think we're not concerned about this. This isn't like you, Nora."

I looked up from my book. "Isn't like me? What am I like?"

My mom smiled. "Why, you're sweet and thoughtful, and you want to do your very best at everything, Nora. That's what you're like." I gave a little snort, but Mom ignored the noise. "And if you need help," she continued, "you're smart enough to ask for it."

"I told you, Mom. I don't need any help. And since when have I been sweet? Or thoughtful?"

Mom stayed focused on her main topic. "But there's nothing wrong with asking for help. We all need help now and then. Besides, you don't want to get a reputation for not caring about your work. Grades are very important, Nora. So, whether you like it or not, first thing tomorrow morning your father and I are going to school to talk with Mrs. Hackney. It's just not right that a perfectly normal student could be allowed to get all Ds. And one C. And your father and I did not get a single academic warning letter from the school, not one. The school has some explaining to do." She paused, her eyes searching my face. "You understand, don't you, Nora? We're not trying to embarrass you. But we have to get to the bottom of this."

I shrugged and said, "Sure. I understand." And I did. Completely. I had been certain they would visit the school after they saw those grades.

Mom stood up and started to leave, but she stopped at the door, turned back, and said, "Your dad and I love you, Nora."

I looked up and said, "I love you too."

And that was a fact.

Copyright © 2004 by Andrew Clements

Meet the Author

Andrew Clements is the author of the enormously popular Frindle. More than 10 million copies of his books have been sold, and he has been nominated for a multitude of state awards, including two Christopher Awards and an Edgar Award. His popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, Extra Credit, Lost and Found, No Talking, Room One, Lunch Money, and more. He is also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series. He lives with his wife in Maine and has four grown children. Visit him at AndrewClements.com.

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The Report Card 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 156 reviews.
Edwards More than 1 year ago
This book was an excellent experience. My teacher likes it because of all the juicy vocabulary it uses. This story is about two kids who get in double trouble. Their names are Nora and Stephen. Nora gets a bad report card and their parents are mad at him. After this problem, Nora makes a bigger problem that's out of control! You never know what is gonna to happen next. I'd recommend this book for grades 3 or higher. This book was great and I hope you read this book also. Parker, from Ms. Edwards class
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book was really good. It says that you should jst do your best and show what god gave you.It showed Me that grades are inportant and always do your best and work hard. It shows how people are unaware of what might happen if you fail. My teacher in 4th grade gave retests. Altough if you get retest it doesn't mean not to study it just means that you try your hardest the first time and if you fail it is good to have second chances. If you are smart don't be afraid to show it be happy all the time and don't take things for granted. This was a great book and i hope you read it soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it! It has a great lesson!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm 12 and in the 6th grade. Mr. Clements books are great to read. I'm not really into reading but I like his books a lot. My mom recently purchased 4 more of his books. I give The Report Card 5 stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this book was really good. It proved that grades aren't everything and bad grades don't make you stupid; and good grades don't make you especially smart. This book showed how tests can affect self-esteem and your life. It also showed how un-aware teachers are of 'geniuses.' It also showed how one just pleases to be normal and just fit in and not be a weirdo. The Report Card shows how one wishes not to be different in a gifted program, but to just be normal. This book I could relate to. It is recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is my favorite book ever !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was funny at points and suspenseful; it turned out to be a pretty good read. I would recommend it for seventh or eighth graders if they like books that are both funny and serious at the same time! There were times when I couldn't put it down...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book when I was in third grade I didn't really care about the message. I wanted to be as smart as Nora. I really wanted to read as much as Nora and understand things like Nora does in the book. All in all this is a geat book and don't take the message to seriously, kids won't and besides its really well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello agin if u r looking for the best book ever read this one if is really good hope u get it if u like it write it thanks for reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Report Card is a very good book so far. I have really enjoyed it. I disagree with the people who say that it delivers a bad mesage. I can't wait to finish it!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a young girl who is very smart and who tries to be normal by not doing well in school, by making D¿s in her classes. This causes problems for her at home and at school. She is trying to get the point across that there is too much pressure and miss use for test and grades. Read this book to find out what happens at the end when the teachers have a meeting with the entire school. This book would be a good book for children to read and be able to relate to, they may feel the same way she did, just wanting to be normal. Clements, Andrew. The Report Card. New York: Simon and Schuster BFYR, 2005.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book Can anybody text &hearts AwesomeShots
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much but if you think this book is horrible then go read a book that is not horrible like you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lets be friends
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thank Andrew clements for producing a book so awesome. It is definitely worth reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Short read.Super fun. BEST BOOK EVER
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never had read most of the andrew clements books but now that i have,i will read more! Strongly reccomend for kids.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beatiful written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How do people rate this book badly because of a lesson. Clemets rote this book npt meaning for people to get bad grades but to make people shut up about them