In today’s entry, we will discuss the teacher’s responsibility in grading. We all know this, but do we stand up for our rights when dealing with it? Have you ever really had to defend your grades? Have you had an administrator require a grade change?
This has bothered me for years. Who has control of your grade book? When I was first teaching, I could not give less than a 60 for the first two grading cycles. In the last grading cycle, per district policy, I could give what the student earned. In theory, this had the potential to be great for those students who struggle but are still trying. It gave those students a chance to still pass the semester. But that was not what happened. Many of my students knew that they could pass the last grading cycle with an 80 and then goof off for the rest of the semester. And that’s what they did. They would come in the last cycle, complete assignments, correct exams, and come out with a passing grade. The district policy took away the teacher’s ability to grade students accordingly and placed it on the district. The first year after that policy was removed was shocking to those students who didn’t do work. So, how does my past experience relate to today’s issues? Let’s look into several things that are happening.
One of the growing concerns from teachers during this time of uncertainty is that they will be asked to just give passing grades. It is imperative that you understand: you, the teacher, have the final word on the grade.
Here is information about the finality of grades in the education code:
Sec. 28.0214. FINALITY OF GRADE. (a) An examination or course grade issued by a classroom teacher is final and may not be changed unless the grade is arbitrary, erroneous, or not consistent with the school district grading policy applicable to the grade, as determined by the board of trustees of the school district in which the teacher is employed.
(b) A determination by a school district board of trustees
under Subsection (a) is not subject to appeal. This subsection does
not prohibit an appeal related to a student’s eligibility to participate in extracurricular activities under Section 33.081.
Sec. 28.0216. DISTRICT GRADING POLICY. A school district shall
adopt a grading policy, including provisions for the assignment of
grades on class assignments and examinations, before each school
year. A district grading policy:
(1) must require a classroom teacher must require a classroom teacher to assign a grade that reflects the student’s relative mastery of an assignment;
(2) may not require a classroom teacher to assign a minimum grade for an assignment without regard to the student’s quality of work; and
(3) may allow a student a reasonable opportunity to make up or redo a class assignment or examination for which the student received a failing grade.
During this difficult time, we must understand that students are experiencing a new level of emotions that they have never had to deal with. They are struggling to find some normalcy, with simple classwork presented in new ways. Some students and parents, however, only heard the governor say that schools were closed. They did not hear that students were still required to do schoolwork online or go pick up assignments. How do we make sure that those students are kept accountable? How do we keep them accountable? Teachers have had their students since August, and they know how their students will work and what to expect from them. Trust the teachers that the students will get the grade they deserve. We should not allow the administration to dictate that all students should be passed. What will be the long-term effects of allowing students who don’t do any assignments to still pass? I assume that some of the students will continue that way of working and will be shocked when the real job or college professor is not as forgiving as the school district.
To be fair, we are not speaking about struggling students who are turning in their assignments. Let’s show some flexibility with those students who may have so much going on. Teachers KNOW their students by now; they know how the students will react to assignments. Why are administrators assuming that students who do not work all year will now decide to work? Do they really believe that a student who has not turned in work all year long will suddenly become a wonderful student and turn in all types of assignments?
We have such an opportunity now to teach students some lifelong lessons about responsibility, empathy, and to even strengthen their work ethic. Just giving grades to boost passing ratings will not help students in the long run. It is time for administrators and teachers to look at themselves and ask, “Is my compassion for my students ultimately going to harm them?” Help students with coping skills, stress relief, and give them reduced assignments—but don’t just hand out passing grades. Remember, you are protected by the education code in giving student grades. You have the final say about grades. Stand up for your rights to protect your grade book, and teach your students lifelong lessons on empathy, accountability, and responsibility.
If you have had this happen to you, please reach out and let me know. I am more than happy to put school districts on blast for violating the education code.