So I went to my first parent night. It was to give out the first six weeks report cards. The only way students can get their report cards is to have their parents come up to the school. This is a very good idea because at least the teachers and the parents get to have a conversation one-on-one conversation with the parents as well as make an initial meet between the two. It is also interesting to see the dynamics of the family. Most of the parents that came where women; this is not surprising. There were a few fathers that came with their wives and then there a few fathers that came by themselves. Throughout the night, my job was to make sure that parents were given the child’s work folder so that they could see the kind of grades that their children were making. They were given the folders outside the classroom while they waited to speak with the teacher. Here is the interesting part about this. The parents were actually shocked to see the grade they received on their work and the grade they received on their report card; it just wasn’t adding up. For example, some students were making less that 50 percent on exams, so how could it be possible that they could have a grade of 75 or 80? Well the rule with the school is that if a student fails an exam, the lowest grade given is a 60. While I disagree with this altogether, I find this interesting because students still pass even though they are not giving much effort in the course. I think there is a difference between a student who makes a 40, a student who didn’t study or really doesn’t care that much and a student with a 60, who worked hard for a 60. But if students are getting a 40 on a test, then they automatically get a 60 because that is the lowest grade. Therefore, it would seem as though we are trying to encourage students to do better, when in actuality, we are giving them bonus points when they don’t deserve it.
The other thing I grabbled with that night was the fact that, many of the students that didn’t make the A-B honor roll were students just two years ago competing to see who could be on the honor roll for 4 six-weeks straight. In other words, these students in eighth grade were formally top students of the month for the last two years. What over a period of two years or less could have affected these students to drop down to the lower performing students today? I don’t have an answer for this one. SURPRISED?!!! I am. So the next step for me is to interview the student to see what factors have played in his life for him to have declined. I do have a starting position though. One particular student’s parents said that this year as an eighth grader they decided to let him be independent about his school work; trying to give him the responsibility to make sure he takes care all of that on his own. His parents weren’t going to hound him every day about work or always be on his back. They were just going to ask him if he did his work and they hoped he would tell them the truth. After finding out how he has been performing they decided that this independent privilege was over. They were now going to make sure he does his homework. They took things away from him and then they decided that he had to prove to them he was able to do his work on his own again. When I look at this, I do ask another question. When is it proper to start giving children complete responsibility of their work? This is something that I have a hard time trying to figure out even though I do have somewhat of an answer. However, what is the starting percentage. For example, at the eighth grade level, do you start off with 15%, 30% or 50%? No child should get anything over 50% percent, but what is starting? I don’t know what I can say at this moment, but I do know that responsibility has to take place at this stage in children’s lives.