So, I had this parent conference this week. The student was struggling in a science class. [As an 8th grader is taking the class for high school credit.] Got a 78 on a test studied for and one the student felt “prepared” for. Parent wanted out of the class 2 weeks ago. Arranging a meeting was a clinical exercise around everyone’s schedule and the almighty testing going on every day (6 hours on Thursday- but thats another post). But we got together and sat down.
In the meantime, teacher and student noticed the grade on the paper said 87, so the teacher made a mistake and inverted the numbers entering into the spreadsheet gradebook. No biggie, fixed the grade, class grade went up to a B and a recent final exam grade of 98 had moved it to an A. Problem solved, student all happy now feels like the “feeling” of getting it has been justified and so wants to keep the class and move forward. This is life in an “A” school, in an affluent, privileged, status-conscious community…
What’s the price?
Ah yes, it was the conversation that troubles me. Parent ( a very pleasant, well spoken woman) wanted to know what the benefit of the taking a class for HS credit in 8th grade was. Did it make it easier to get into AP Biology in high school? Did it help track the student to the desired post-secondary path? Would a good grade (an A) look good on a college application? We didn’t want a bad grade to be tracked and hurt chances for that desired post-secondary plan. What would look good to those colleges? Which high school program would be the right one. Our school is so noted for math and science. Our student is interested in a STEM program, which is the right one? We don’t want to take any chances that will place undesirable barriers on the path to the desirable post-secondary opportunity. Yes we are doing community hours, we are doing art and music and sport (track of course) because we want a well-rounded education for our student. So happy to know we are on the right track. The earlier stress and anxiety is mitigated now with success. And so it goes. Parent was grateful for our conversation, thankful we took time and gave some good info points for consideration.
Parent left happy and complimented the principal on our interaction. Principal congratulated us for our meeting and assured us this was a good parent and it was expected to have gone alright. Kid’s doing well, quarter 1 in the books.
Do you spot my concern? Is it just me? Anywhere in this conversation did you see a concern for learning? Did we talk about the knowledge needed for AP Biology? Did we discuss the student dreams for education? For knowledge? I don’t think so, the word learning was never mentioned.
I never cared much about grades. Came from an average family. “C” was average. I personally don’t believe in grades, rather I look at mastery- what can my students actually do with what we have been working on, me teaching- they learning?
There is another gap in America; income equality, social equality and EDUCATIONAL expectation equality. We aren’t really addressing any of them effectively just now. How can we bridge this gap when the advantaged group doesn’t even get it?