When Students Don’t Make the Grade

When I was in grade school one year, I got a few “D’s” on my report card.  With a pen of contrasting color to the D, I made a line halfway across the letter from left to right, and turned the two D’s into weird looking B’s.  Much to my astonishment, my father noticed the alteration!  And, boy oh boy, I got punished.

The following story ups the ante on my little escapade:  An 11 year old boy from Alabama didn’t want to bring home his bad report card either.  So, he said that a man with a pistol snatched him after he left middle school, forced him into a beat-up car, and threatened to kill him.  He then explained that he escaped by jumping out of the car, but that he wasn’t able to grab his book bag in which was (no surprise here)….the report card.  The police investigators were a bit suspicious when the boy was able to “escape” with his cumbersome band instrument, but not his soft, smaller book bag. 

The boy ran to his grandfather’s house, and admitted to lying.  The grandfather called the police to apologize.

I mention this story because the issue of grades is important.  Grade inflation definitely exists — and it’s like telling a kid he’s special just because he breathes regularly. It builds a false sense of competency and value which condemns a kid to fail in the future and be frustrated that his unconditional perfection hasn’t quite panned out. 

In addition, there’s a lack of willingness to respect children who are able and willing to work hard and attain high grades and become valedictorians.  In fact, the acknowledgment of a valedictorian has been banned in some schools so the feelings of those less accomplished won’t be hurt. 

Then there are parents who want to see A’s, even if their child is capable only of a C+.  I always tell parents that the teacher should let them know at their regular meetings whether or not their child is doing his or her best – that’s the best -accomplishment.

It’s sad when parents don’t know what’s happening with their children’s school work until report card day, and then the yelling starts.  Yes, this Alabama boy did the wrong thing, but he must have been (as I was) VERY scared about the consequences.  He’s 11….11!!  If he’s that scared,  then let’s look at that first, and then help him to do his best.  Punishment for bad grades is not the way to go in this case. 

Punishment for editing the D’s or for lying to police?  Now that makes more sense.