If you are new to programming report cards in PowerSchool, you might be surprised to learn that there are actually many different systems that allow you to incorporate historical grades into a printable PDF file to send home.  In this post, I will walk through a few pros and cons of the two systems that our team uses the most.  They are:

  1. Report Cards
  2. Object Reports

Solution #1:  Report Cards – A simple but limited approach to report cards.

This is probably the first place that you would start because it is appropriately named “Report Cards”.  Why wouldn’t you start there?!

In the description of the Report Card system, PowerSchool calls describes the system as:

“Design and edit student schedule listing report templates”

but a more appropriate name may be:

“Design and edit four-object, multi-page, structured report templates.”

Out of the box, PowerSchool comes with some sample report cards named:

  • Sample – 4 Qtr Report Card
  • Sample – Attendance Letter
  • Sample – HS Report Card
  • Sample – MS Report Card
  • Sample – Progress Report
  • Sample – Quarter MS Report Card
  • Sample – Student Schedules

Each of these reports are great for getting a peek into what you can build with this system but before you dive into the details it helps to know that Report Cards are broken into four parts.  No more. No less.

  1. Title
  2. Heading
  3. Schedule Listing
  4. Footer

Layout

The four parts of the Report Card are displayed in a linear way from the top of the page to the bottom of the page.  That means that if your Title is very large, the heading will not start until later in the page.  Due to this behavior it pays to take a few minutes to plan what goes in each section so that you do not run out of space.  That leads us to our first benefit:

Pro:  You will never have overlapping objects.

Since the order of the objects is strict, you never need to worry about one object running over another.  If your earlier objects are big, they will just “push” the other objects to show lower on the page.

Con:  You are limited to four objects with top to bottom ordering only.

Want to put the Title on the left hand side with the Heading to the right?  Want to put the Schedule Listing on the top with a Heading underneath?  Unfortunately the simplicity of the Report Card system has a limitation in how objects are laid out so moving the X and Y coordinates of these objects is not possible.

Summary

The Report Card system is SIMPLE BUT LIMITED.  If you need something fast that will report on historical grades you can do so with very little effort.  The downside is that you lose the ability to create more elaborate report cards that may require more than one object or flexibility of page placement.  They won’t win any beauty awards but they will work.

Solution #2:  Object Reports – A powerful but limited approach to report cards.

Object reports are an advanced report card programming system that allows you to place many objects of different types using X, Y coordinates on a page.

Where we describe Report Cards as:

“Design and edit four-object, multi-page, structured report templates.”

PowerSchool describes Object Reports as:

“Design and edit multi-object, multi-page, free-form report templates”

Out of the box, PowerSchool comes with some sample object reports named:

  • Sample – High School Transcript
  • Sample – Lunch ID with Picture
  • Sample – Middle School Transcript
  • Sample – Student ID Badges
  • Sample – Student Profile (Page 1)
  • Sample – Student Profile (Page 2)
  • Sample – Student Scheduling Form
  • Sample – Transcript 2
  • Sample – Transcript 3
  • Sample Class Rosters
  • Print Me First! (Admin Users Info)

You can program any number of objects(I have yet to reach a limit) so long as they contain the following TYPES of objects:

  • Text
  • Line
  • Box
  • Circle
  • Transcript
  • Standard
  • Fee List
  • Picture
  • Sequence

Layout

Object Reports can accommodate any number of objects which means that you can be as detailed as you want to be in the layout of your report card.  The only layout specific rule that you should note is that all objects are “anchored” to a specific X, Y coordinate on the page.  That means that if you have a one-inch box with the top left corner places at X=1 inch and Y=1 inch, placing another one-inch square at X=1.5inch and Y=1.5inch will display OVERLAPPING boxes.  Maybe this is what you want!

Pro:  Layout options are very flexible.

Due to the use of X,Y anchors on the page, you can overlap objects as well as space objects far apart from each other with a high amount of precision.  Additionally, Object Reports can accommodate up to 20 layers for building your dream report card.

Con:  Much more labor intensive.

We have built Object Reports that look great but have over 300 objects.  Before starting your work on an Object Report as a Report Card, it pays to think about how many objects you wish to use and whether or not the time and effort is worth it.

Summary

The Object Report system is POWERFUL BUT COMPLEX.  Chances are that if you can draw a report card out on paper, you can achieve something very close to it using Object Reports.  Just be ready to spend a lot of time programming them.  To help, our team has placed a few resources online to help you such as:

PowerSchool Object Report | Transcript Object

PowerSchool Report and Export Codes | Data Access Tags (DATs)

No matter what system you choose, our Team is also here to help if you need it!  If you would like to know more about our Custom Report Card building services, please visit us here to learn more or here to contact us!