Grade pressure is pretty extreme here at EIS. In fact it is so important to some parents that their students get high grades, that sometimes things get a little out of hand. Some examples:
-We’ve heard stories of students (and parents) who will send projects off to get professionally made rather than create them on their own. Jesse has been advised to make science fair boards an in-class project since in the past many students have turned in professionally designed experiments that they had little or no involvement with themselves.
-I have students who have friends/family members do their sketchbook homework for them. You may not be aware of my art teaching philosophy, but it is not based on ability! In fact all homework is graded on effort, thoughtfulness and attention to detail. I was quite surprised this week to find one of my students with a sketchbook full of very fancy drawings that don’t match his classwork.
-A friend of ours who teaches 1st grade has been warned to be careful what work she sends as homework, because parents sometimes do it for their children.
-Some of our elementary teacher friends have to repeatedly explain to parents that 100% is a very special grade that is rarely given out. It seems that some parents expect their children to receive “perfect” on the majority of their assignments.
-When the last report cards came out, it was easy to see how concerned students get about their grades. Many even panicked about 1 or 2 points when they had a high A my class.
-The school grading system does not help this pressurized situation either. D’s have been eliminated from the grading scale and anything below a 70% is considered failing. As I’m sure you can imagine this greatly inflates the grades. It’s no wonder kids worry about a B when it is so close to having an F.
While it is nice that there are a significant number of conscientious students that care about their grades here, the high pressure situation they are in also leads to concern. Are they so worried about their grades that they are willing to cheat and lie to maintain a high average? And what is that teaching them about ethics? As for students that wouldn’t cheat, are they spending too much time worried about school and not enough being a kid? Just some thoughts…