3rd Grade Spelling Activities-Parents going crazy!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by ThirdGrade123, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. ThirdGrade123

    ThirdGrade123 Companion

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    Sep 30, 2005

    (Ok, this is long but I really need the help!)

    This is my 2nd year teaching. Last year and this year, my grade partner and I did a "Language Arts Activities Packet" This was an assignment based on each child's spelling words, grammar skills, and the story they are reading in their LA textbook. The assignment is given out on a Monday and usually due Friday of the next week. There are many activities for the children to choose from. They rang from 5 pts (put the words in ABC order, scramble the words, make a word search) to 15 points (write a story using all of your spelling words). If they complete 60 points neatly, they receive an A. 50 pts is a B and so on.

    At back to school night each parent was given a copy of the assignment as a SAMPLE. I stressed sample because it is modified for those students who are classified. Anyway, since I sent home the new assignment with the spelling words, parents are nonstop complaining. I recently got a viscious letter telling me this is "busy work" not a justifiable homework assignment, asking me why I modify for her child, that I am expecting her child to write paragraphs in 3rd grade, (they wrote paragraphs in 2nd grade), that I am expecting too much, how come they can't just memorize words, and a few other choice remarks. You can tell it was written in a harsh tone and really took me off guard. I'm scheduled to meet with this parent on Wednesday.
    FUN.

    So, I want to know if any of you do a homework assignment similiar to this. Do you receive problems from parents about it? What do I do about parents who badger me constantly about the assignment. I am at my wit's end!

    If any of you do assign a project like this, can you suggest some other activities to add to it? Or can you share how your point system works?

    This is a short version of how mine works. You have to complete 60 points worth of activities to get an A. I put more than 60 points worth of the activities on the sheet so the children can pick and choose what they want to do. I even sent home a letter suggesting that parents purchase a calendar so that the children can plan when to do each assignment.

    5 pts-Put words in ABC order.
    5 pts- Create a word search (teacher has special paper)
    5 pts- Scramble your words and have someone unscramble them (teacher has special paper)
    5 pts- Find and cut out your spelling words from different magazines. Create a collage.
    10 pts- Pick 5 of your spelling words. Write an acrostic poem for each. The poem must define the word. (They did these poems in 2nd grade and we wrote 2 together this year)
    10 pts- Pick 10 of your words. Write a definition for each. Illustrate your definitions.
    10 pts- Choose 10 of your words. Write 2 statements, 2 commands, 2 questions, and 2 exclamations. Use one spelling word in each of your sentences. (This is the grammar skill we are currently working on).
    10 pts- Choose 15 of your spelling words. Write one sentence for each word. With a ruler underline the subject in one color, and the predicate in a different color. (Another grammar skill we are working on)
    15 pts- Write a short story using at least 15 of your spelling words.
    15 pts- Since we have read a story about a magical island, create a brochure about adveritising your own private island. Write 2 paragraphs explaining why someone would want to visit your island. Use at least 15 of your spelling words.


    Thanks for your help. I'm so stressed right now, so I hope this post made sense!
     
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  3. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    We don't give spelling activities other than memorize the words. We share ways to help memorize the words, but the activites are not required or graded. We have individual spelling ---give the core words no practice on Monday morning. Students keep the words they missed and add words from previous years county spelling bee contest and words they want to learn to spell. We have excellent spellers. We stress reading fifteen minutes every night. We do AR and Book-It.
     
  4. MR ARMS PKTEACH

    MR ARMS PKTEACH Rookie

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    I think these are wonderful activities. I teach Pre-K but I have to say these are very creative. They are a lot better than the normal, write your spelling words 5 times each, write sentences for each of your spelling words, etc. I think the parents are just LAZY!!!! Talk to your Language Arts Coordinator or grade level leader about it.
     
  5. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I wasn't sure if I understood, do you assign on Monday and they are due on that Friday, or a week from that Friday?
     
  6. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    It does sound like a lot for 3rd grade, though very creative and fun! I never assign homework that a student can't do without parent help. I really don't want the parents too involved in homework, actually. If they have to be, then it probably is too much.
     
  7. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I agree with upsadaisy, sounds like a lot of work to get an A. Now, I'm not a lazy parent, but every week doing that many activities to earn an A would really turn kids off I would think. Great ideas.......could they somehow be broken up, so as they do a variety different weeks and could possibly be modified so not so much per activity? When you have other children in your house and they all have work like this........the nights go by too fast. I don't think that is being lazy, I just think they could learn as much without so much work to do.....in third grade. Just my two cents.
     
  8. MR ARMS PKTEACH

    MR ARMS PKTEACH Rookie

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    I think 10 days is plenty of time to complete these activities. It is 3rd grade, what is that 30 minutes of homework a night? Some of those activities only take 15 minutes. I love the assignments and the point totals. I taught a 4/5 split two years ago and I wish I had those activities to give them. I mean all of these activities reinforce the spelling words AND a LA topic you are discussing. I know at my school if we just sent the kids home with tips on memorizing words they would all fail terribly. What is the point of memorizing how to spell a word if you do not know what the word means.
     
  9. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Yes, but there may be homework in other subjects as well, not just spelling.
     
  10. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I'm still confused, is it ten days or only four?
     
  11. MR ARMS PKTEACH

    MR ARMS PKTEACH Rookie

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    She said it is given on Monday and due the Friday of the next week, so that is actually 11 nights to complete those tasks
     
  12. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I think I misread it then.
     
  13. ruralneteach

    ruralneteach Rookie

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    I really liked all of the ideas but I would tend to agree with the points being awfully hard to attain an A.

    10 pts- Pick 10 of your words. Write a definition for each. Illustrate your definitions.

    That's only one point for a sentence AND an illustration --- unless they are able to just write short definitions and not complete sentences.

    But it definitely doesn't sound like busy work ---- all of the activities are very creative and much, much better than mere memorization. I would just wonder about the points each activity is worth.
     
  14. jcg

    jcg Cohort

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    Why don't you have them start some of these wonderful activities each day and have 1 due each day? It would hellp you too. Not so much correcting time on the weekend. It sounds like a lot of work for you and the kids!
     
  15. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    rural and jcg, you both said just how I felt, but worded it much better. thanks! I looked at the point value of it all as well........I think either they should be worth more points, or less activities per point. Mr. Arms, I see what you are saying, but it is quite a bit for a third grader to do, and as upsadaisy said, I think a lot of these would require parental involvement at this age.
     
  16. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    Making myself more plain. We do spelling activities, but they are completed at school. Homework is memorizing only. I think the parent is complaining that it is just way to much homework. To be blunt I feel the same way. In fact any teacher that gave that much homework in one subject, would have 99% of the parents at school and if they didn't get results, the school board would be involved. In fact that is why we have a limit on homework in our school and homework is to be mainly reading. The teacher would not be teaching in our school the next year. Spelling is a subject that students can have lots of fun mastering. Don't over do it and make it a hated subject. Spelling is so important. We use it all our lives.
     
  17. ThirdGrade123

    ThirdGrade123 Companion

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    Thanks for the input. I like the activities because they hit on many different aspects of the LA program, not just memorizing the spelling words. I just looked through them tonight and some kids did a BEAUTIFUL job (for others, it is blatantly obvious that the parents did a beautiful job). I enjoy seeing their creativity come out in this assignment.

    They do have 11 days to complete the assignments but I understand that each child works differently. So, I'm all for increasing the value of some assignments but the thing is that I work very closely with my grade partner & I do not know if she would go for increasing the points or making it a daily assignment. But, I do feel that if they did one assignment each night from the packet that would be the same as assigning a homework assignment each night. Except in this situation the students have the option of deciding for themselves which activities to do.

    As for other homework, I only assign a Math practice book page in addition to this ongoing activity.


    MR ARMS PKTEACH--another teacher in my school uses activities similiar to these with her 5th graders. The class she has now had my grade partner 2 years ago when they were in third grade. So the parents and the students were used to the assignment.

    Keep the suggestions coming! I do appreciate all the input!

    Any ideas on how to deal with this parent?
     
  18. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Explain WHY you're choosing to do spelling this way (it makes the words meaningful, that you want the kids to understand how to use the words, that you've seen that this helps kids retain the words... ie, I can spell it right on the test but not in my writing, it's a grade-level policy, it's more interesting, teaches the kids responsibility, you want to integrate grammar practice, etc)... she may just not understand the reasoning behind why you chose to do it this way.

    but remember... you're the teacher. :) I have to remind myself of this DAILY.
     
  19. Sarah Leigh Ann

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    How does the child of the concerned parent feel about the homework? I have a child in my class that the mom will not let him do homework at home and he knows that kids who do their homework get a sticker on an incentive chart for a pass to eat with the teacher/ extra computer/ game day/ etc. This child comes in every morning and works on his homework before school starts and turns it in. He reads his take home book while waiting on the bus and eating breakfast in the morning. I admire his dedication and send home notes all the time complimenting his homework so mom will get the hint he wants to do it. Most of our homework assignments in first grade is something they can on their own and have mom or dad check it. This year we have started the same thing like you did but we have math homework on Monday-Wednesday and spelling homework on Tuesday and Thursday. The students have a list similar to yours where they choose one activity off the list.
     
  20. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    I tried a similar idea in my third grade class. But the paper work was beyond belief! How can you mark all of these papers when they are handed in on Friday? Do you conference with each student on their work pointing out errors? This would take so much time out of my day. This is the reason I stopped doing assignments like this. I found I could not spend the needed time with each student pointing out errors and showing them how to do it correctly.
     
  21. ThirdGrade123

    ThirdGrade123 Companion

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    Sarah Leigh Ann--She feels that her son can do the work but that it is too much and not relevant to the topics being taught. Like for example, one of the activities involves subjects and predicates. She questions how she is to know that this skill was taught if homework was not sent home. But, I can't send home homework on the skill because they have the point assignment at home already! (Parents would probably kill me!) So, I do work on the skill everyday, they do SO many different things to reinforce the skill. I do make worksheets that students complete in class, we review, I check it and return it to the class to take home. I figure that way the parents can see a hard copy of what we are studying.

    janlee--it is hard to grade!! I never know exactly what comments to put on it. I do not like grading them all that much either. I usually just write comments and send them home to be signed. If I see that there was a major problem that needs to be addressed, I will reteach it as a lesson or speak to those kids. But, there is no way I could conference with every kid!

    When you did those activities, what type of comments did you put on it? I'm running out of ideas!
     
  22. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    We have similar activites, but we do them a day at a time. I DETEST spelling just by memorizing. It's a time waster. By expanding it to other types of activities the kids are learning what the words truly mean, not just memorizing them for Friday and forgetting them by Friday afternoon. Maybe instead of having them complete all of the ativities they can choose 5 of them to complete. Each time you can make one manditory and the rest a choice (for example, one time make them all write the paragraphs, then the other 4 are free choice, etc).
    If the parent is too aggressive, have the principal sit in at the meeting. Be direct and explain the procedure and show successes from the previous year. Cover yourself first, though. If the child is 504 or special ed make sure you have their IEP or IAP covered completely so she can't throw that at you.
    Good luck!!
     
  23. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I do something similar for my spelling center during small group reading time. I have a puzzle graphic with ten pieces, each activity is worth the same amount, and takes about the same amount of time. The kids have to complete one each day. If the student doesn't finish his/her work during class, it is homework. I send the list home, but other than unfinished work, I don't assign activities for spelling homework. I try to fill my twenty minutes of homework time with reading activities.

    I think if all the assignments were of similar length and were worth the same number of points, it might be more fair since some kids don't always have support at home. The activities are good, but I think it's too much to be done solely as homework.
     
  24. ThirdGrade123

    ThirdGrade123 Companion

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    I like your idea of just choosing five. Do you think this assignment should still be due in 2 weeks or one week?

    Also, the boy was supposed to be classified last year in 2nd grade but the mother never sent back the paperwork. He does go out for extra help in LA. From her letter, she seems to think that he should not have modified activities. But, I did modify it b/c he goes out for extra help and has a lot of difficulty staying focused and getting assignments completed in class. Would these be good enough reasons for modifiying it?
     
  25. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    (This is true in Lousiana, I would think it was true everywhere but may not be.) As a classroom teacher you have the right to modify any assignment or test you choose. State/Federal mandated tests can't be modified w/o paperwork.
    If they are only choosing 5 activities, I would do it in a week. We do 5 activities a week in spelling. (I test on Wednesday to avoid having too many tests pile up on Friday.)
     
  26. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I agree that the activities are wonderful but that the setup of the assignment is too much for 3rd grade. First of all, anything assigned 10 days in advance is already expecting a lot of a 3rd grader. The whole point total thing is also too mature for them, imho. Alternatives would be to assign a different task each day of the week and check daily for completion, play more spelling games in class and/or have spelling center activities. Do more hands-on and less written. Don't involve the parents at all.
     
  27. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I only have three homework assignments in spelling a week- first is memorization, second is making a crossword or wordsearch, and third is writing the words in sentences. Besides that, I focus on spelling strategies and games in class. The students correct spellings in Daily Language Practice sentences and try to find smaller words in larger ones.
     
  28. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I think an "A" SHOULD require a lot of work.

    Seriously, why should an "A" be easy to get? Isn't the whole point of an 'A' EXCELLENCE? Beyond the ken of 'average?' Requiring more than is required for 'average?' And if a student is not willing to put forth this extra effort, why should he/she deserve an 'A?' A 'B' or lower is plenty good enough for the student who is not willing to put forth effort.

    Just my two cents. I can't afford any more.
     
  29. MR ARMS PKTEACH

    MR ARMS PKTEACH Rookie

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    I agree that the activities are wonderful but that the setup of the assignment is too much for 3rd grade. First of all, anything assigned 10 days in advance is already expecting a lot of a 3rd grader. The whole point total thing is also too mature for them, imho. Alternatives would be to assign a different task each day of the week and check daily for completion, play more spelling games in class and/or have spelling center activities. Do more hands-on and less written. Don't involve the parents at all.

    Don't involve the parents at all........Parents ARE SUPPOSED TO BE INVOLVED! Middle through High school is the time that the parent can relax! Parents should be sitting down to at least check the homework every night, if not going through each question with the child. Most of the parents probably do not know how to spell the words, so they need the practice also.
     
  30. teacherteacher

    teacherteacher Rookie

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    Spelling Activities

    I do the same as you every week for Spelling homework and have not had a parent complaint ever. I've been doing it this way for the past 4 years. I looked at your activities and I would get rid of the definitions. The goal of Spelling is to spell words, not define them. Defining words is more of a Vocabulary assignment, not a Spelling assignment.

    Also, this seems like a lot of work for a third grader to complete every week. I would change the due date to every Friday OF THE SAME WEEK, NOT THE FOLLOWING WEEK. To me, this seems like a long time for third graders to remember to turn in an assignment. I would suggest that you keep the assignments but raise the points on them. My Spelling Tasks homeowork is to get 100 points every week, but my point values are 20 and 40 points.

    I would suggest other acitivities to get your students spelling the words every day.

    Your assignments seems geared more towards an academically gifted student. It seems like your average and below average students would have a hard time completing the homework. I change my Spelling homework every grading period just so the kids won't get bored doing the same thing over and over again.

    Also, think about the parents who are complaining. How do these students work in the classroom? Is other homeowork a challenge for them, or just the Spelling? Have you thought about modifying your assignments?

    Here is something for you to look at....


    Name________________________________________

    Spelling Tasks

    Choose a combination of the tasks below to equal 100 points.

    20 points
    1. Write your words 2x each in cursive.
    2. Write your words neatly in print. Next to it, write 2 rhyming words.
    3. Divide the words into syllables. You may use a dictionary to help you.
    4. Print the words neatly and circle all the vowels.
    5. Use each word in a sentence. Write 1o sentences in the form of a question (?) and 10 sentences in the exclamatory (!). Write the words used in a different color.
    6. Scramble the words and give to a family member or friend to solve. (Signature of family member or friend is required).
    7. Draw a picture using your spelling words as the border.
    8. Alphabetize the words.
    9. Have a family member or friend give you a spelling test. Write any words missed 3x each. (Signature of family member or friend is required).

    40 Points
    11. Make a poem using at least 10 of your words. Write the words used in a different color.
    12. Write a short story using at least 10 of your words. Write the words used in a different color.
    13. Make a word search and have a family member or friend solve it. (Signature required).
    14. Print each word neatly. Next to the word, form the plural.
    15. Classify each word according to its part of speech: noun, verb, adjective, pronoun, and adverb. Use a dictionary to help you.

    SPELLING HOMEWORK IS DUE EVERY FRIDAY!

    20 POINTS WILL BE DEDUCTED FROM YOUR GRADE EACH DAY YOUR HOMEWORK IS LATE!
     
  31. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Mr Arms - I think you meant to quote my post. I realize that lots of people don't agree with me, but I think homework is for the students. Maybe because I teach in a private school, we have more problems with parents who want to do homework with their kids than with parents who are uninvolved. Checking that homework is done, answering any questions their child might have, is all that should be expected of parents. I don't want my parents to reteach lessons at home. I'd rather give appropriate assignments that are achievable by the average child with enrichment for advanced students.
     
  32. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Upsadaisy, I agree with your idea of homework assignments. Mr. Arms, that seems like quite a negative attitude to have towards parents. I don't think that is true of most parents, and it seemed unfair to say most of them probably don't know how to spell them at all. The point is, the homework is for the children to practice, not to give parents a spelling lesson as well, isn't it?
     
  33. MR ARMS PKTEACH

    MR ARMS PKTEACH Rookie

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    I do not care, I do not like parents. If I liked parents I would teach college. I come from a school were NO parents were involved and homework was the only way to reach them.
     
  34. jcg

    jcg Cohort

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    Yikes!
     
  35. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    How sad for you you've had such a terrible experience that has left you so angry at all parents!
     
  36. TeachGrd1

    TeachGrd1 Rookie

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    The activities sound like a lot of fun and it is a great way to memorize spelling words.

    The thing I noticed is this:
    If the kids are doing mostly five point assignments and they do one a day, that only gives them 25 points. Even if they do 10 point assignments everyday, that would only get them a B. The ten point assignment that sticks out t me is the acoustic poem with every word. That assignment seems like a lot of work for a third grader (at the beginning of the year).

    What if you increased the point values so the students could complete one activity a night to reinforce the words and still recieve an A. This would be a comprimise for everyone
     
  37. jcg

    jcg Cohort

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    I agree with TeachGrade1, if you tell them that if they complete 1 assignment each day that is an A. Thst should be good enough!
     
  38. nascarkat

    nascarkat Guest

    Oct 2, 2005


    Amen, Jane...when did we become a society that says every child deserves an "A". I'm tired of that mentality. While I LOVE the district I'm in, "we" don't want to upset the parents by giving kids report card grades that end in "9"-89, 79, etc. I had to go in and change grades for kids (who did not deserve to have grades changed) because they had an 89 on their report card for the 1st six weeks. I had to change one girl's 77 to a 100 to get it to a 90. That really p---es me off. If I can prove why she got an 89, why should I have to change it? I made the comment on her report card that she had received a "grade adjustment". I hope the parents ask me about it, because I will for sure be telling them what it means.
     
  39. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I gave a social studies test a few weeks ago and was appalled when my 5th graders couldn't spell United States of America, Atlantic Ocean, and many more. So I gave them a list and told them they had a week to memorize the spelling of 20 geography terms. Next week I gave the test. Guess what? Many of them missed 5, 6, 7 or more words. So I assigned for homework, each incorrect word must be written correctly and neatly ten times. Out of 8 kids, I got two parent notes the next day complaining about all the writing their babies had to do. One parent even wrote each one correctly for the child the first time so he wouldn't have to look it up. Was I fuming and couldn't wait for conferences in two days. I put a note on the one paper requesting no parent writing on homework, and I told the class (and later the parents) that the way to avoid writing so much was to get 100 on the next test. The kids were smart enough not to say a word in protest. The parents I'm not too sure.
     
  40. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Nascarkat, what is the grading scale in your district? Is it a 10 point scale?
    Ours is

    94 - 100 A
    88 - 93 B
    78 - 87 C
    70 - 78 D
    69 & below F

    Why would they justify changing the grades to that extent? What happens when their grades drop the second six weeks? What about the kids who truly earn their grade? That's basically telling them their hard work was wasted time.
     

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