ADMINISTRATION DOESN'T SUPPORT ME! Please HELP!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by snowboarder77, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. snowboarder77

    snowboarder77 New Member

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    Jan 12, 2009

    I just recently had my principal ask me to change a student's grade. This student has a parent who is crazy and threatens to sue people left and right if they don't do what she asks. Our school district does WHATEVER they can to avoid lawsuits, so my principal asked me to change this kid's grade. I did not change his grade and WOULD NOT change his grade if ever put in a situation like this again. This is something I will fight to the bitter end and alone if I have to. The thing I have to know is - - Is it like this at most schools/districts? This is the only one I've taught at, this is my 3rd year and I feel completely burned to a crisp. I have so little faith in my administrators, but don't know what else to do to try and change things (if I can even do anything). Any advice from anyone would please help. The best solution might be to go to a different school/district - but again, is it like this everywhere?
     
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  3. SreevesTX

    SreevesTX Guest

    Jan 12, 2009

    No it is not like that everywhere. Personally I would document all suggestions to do such and leave when appropriate - good luck!
     
  4. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Where I am in CA, I am lucky to have a supportive administration. They would never ask this.
     
  5. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I agree to document the times asked to change the students grade, but I wouldn't change the grade.That is the grade the child EARNED
     
  6. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    snowboarder - I was in the same same situation. I asked to have the request emailed to me; admin refused. I asked for it to be put in writing; admin refused. I told admin I could not change the grade without a written directive; I was told that I was not going to make it through my probationary period if I didn't change the grade. I prayed a lot for guidance - and what I saw was an already corrupt district believing a corrupt admin. over me. Since I had no "proof" - everything was verbal - I really had no platform to even allege that the request and threat were made.

    It is a crappy situation - I spent the remainder of the year knowing I had no control in my room because the kids knew that the admin would "make" me do what they wanted. If I refused to tear up a referral, I wouldn't have my contract renewed. And on and on, ad nauseum.

    It's really a crap shoot with schools - when I interviewed at this school, I thought it was a perfect fit for me. Now I wonder how to ask an admin if they are corrupt or not when I interview.
     
  7. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Jan 12, 2009

    I had a similar situation in my old school. A student was failing and I was told that he would pass, no matter what. After a few hints from the principal I calmly told him that I didn't give grades. If he wanted a certain grade given he would have to do do it himself and I would file an official report that it wasn't done by me. (To be honest, this only came after a few years of serious frustration. Several years ago I would have let him change it and not said a word.) My new school is night and day different. First of all my principal scans our online grades about once a week. She knows what's going on, there are no surprises. She's already come around to ask us who we are concerned about not passing. She's active and really listens to you.
    Was the request to change the grade made in writing? I would really document everything. Can you talk to the principal and explain why you really felt like the grade shouldn't have changed. (I mean, I realize it's obvious that the grade shouldn't change, but maybe sitting down having a conversation with her might make her realize what she was asking you to do.) Also, do they ever audit grades at your school? We are required to keep their signed papers and if they choose to, they will take our gradebook and papers, and if they don't match up, there are SERIOUS issues. So, like I said, I would document everything, and talk to the principal. Good luck!!!
     
  8. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    See, that's the thing - a lot of the time I wonder just how often this happens to teachers who are not in a financial position to uphold their morals. I would have loved to say "Fire me. I'm not changing a grade." But then there's rent, car insurance, student loans, etc... plus the black mark of having been fired. I know this happens. I just think it sucks. So that's why my new motto in life is, "I'll need that in writing."

    Wonder what DF would say if I made him write out his vows and then sign them? :lol:
     
  9. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    Jan 13, 2009

    If this was happening to me I would start caring around a digital audio recorder and every time I had a conversation with admin I would record it and save it on my home computer.
     
  10. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Jan 13, 2009

    So here's the thing: your administration has asked you to do something (change a grade) and you don't want to. Like it or not, that's the direct authority over you and personally, I'd just do it. Can you make a notation in the permanent record to the effect what the "earned" grade was?
    As the teachers in my former school would say, "Is this the hill you want to die on?" Keep asking yourself that when things come up that you'd rather not compromise about. Just my :2cents:
     
  11. MizDubya

    MizDubya Rookie

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    Jan 13, 2009

    I'm very lucky--the school where I teach is incredibly supportive of its faculty, or at least that's what I've experienced so far this first year of teaching there.

    I think it's actually quite admirable, Snowboarder, that you've stuck to your guns. It's atrocious that an administrator would ask you to change a grade--if a student can pass without earning the grade, then what is the student learning about responsibility and consequences?

    I've had to deal with plagiarism issues this past year, and it amazed me to see how very little concern the parents had over the fact that their children cheated. All they cared about was how their children's overall grade would be affected, because wittle preshus needed to get into a good college. I understand the anxiety over college admissions, but at the same time, parents don't seem to understand that their children need to also be prepared to do the work, and accept consequences for their actions, when they are in college and beyond. Mommy and Daddy can't always be there to clean up the messes.

    For me, personally, it's an issue of ethics. I can't live with myself if I don't uphold the standards of academic integrity, whether it is over plagiarism or grade-changing. Kudos to all those who are willing to fight for what's right, rather than what's easy. (Of course, this is not to say that sometimes it has more to do with what will pay the rent, which unfortunately sometimes forces such ethical compromises...)

    Whew. Obviously a real hot-button issue for me. Sorry to rant. Snowboarder, good luck with the situation, and keep us posted!
     
  12. snowboarder77

    snowboarder77 New Member

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    Jan 13, 2009

    Thank you to everyone!

    You all helped me tremendously. On one hand, it's comforting to know that this isn't only going on at my school/in my district, on the other, it's really great to know that there are schools/districts that will uphold academic standards and the integrity of the education being offered and the standard of working to earn a grade, rather than just being "given" a grade to avoid crazy parents and/or admin.

    I did definitely document the issue, and there were actually two other teachers in the room when my principal asked me to do this - so I have witnesses. I've spoken with the union about it and if I need to, I'll file a grievance and possibly a law suit (depending on how far this is taken)...not sure if that's possible, but I'll try.

    The thing that's so disheartening about this is that I feel like I have to fight for what should be common sense and fight for what we ALL know is morally right. My principal didn't say my job was on the line (and I really feel for you chebrutta that your principal actually did threaten you with your job), but legally, are they even able to fire you over something like that? It's stated in Ed Code that legally a teacher is the only one who has the right to change a grade and that no one can order a student's grade to be changed. Although I guess if there's no proof, crappy principals could pink slip you saying you were a bad teacher or something instead of the real, immoral reason.

    I'm in my 3rd year and definitely have a more realistic view of the public education system, it's just never gotten this bad before. Any tips on coping with how messed up the public education system is?

    Thanks again everyone... I sincerely appreciate all of your advice and comments. :)
     
  13. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

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    Jan 14, 2009

    If you are in an at-will state, they can fire you for any reason or none at all.
     
  14. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Jan 22, 2009

    Snowboarder,

    Why did they ask you to change the grade? I know you said the parent was difficult but do they have a different perspective from you?

    My P can change my grades if she wants to (legally). So although this has never happened if I felt confidant that I was following our A & E policy and she asked me to change a grade I would tell her that if she wanted the grade changed she would have to change it herself :)
     
  15. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    That's pretty sad that someone that wasn't in the classroom can override the grade given by the actual teacher.
     
  16. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    I actually don't think it is sad at all. While I have never had a grade changed I think that having an administrator pressue me to change a grade would be far worse than having them change the grade. If they want they grade changed, they should have to take responsibility for it. I will say that working with students in small groups from various classes that I have seen examples where I question if the failure is based on legitimate grounds. So I actually think that used with discretion this is a good rule.
     
  17. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    At least you don't know that this has happened. We've looked back in the records a few times for various reasons and have found grade changes.

    The seniors are the toughest to catch since they graduate and you never see them again.

    We've caught the changes when a next years teacher wonders how a student ever makes it to the next class. Then we've checked grades just to find out that the student didn't pass my class, but somehow has a D as their final grade....suspicious...

    On a side note...I've been in the unfortunate situation to be "let go." I had 10 special ed students with a special ed teacher assigned. He never showed up most days. I made the mistake of documenting this in an email to someone I thought I could trust. When my tenure came up...I was denied. At the time it was a good thing. More money, better schedule, closer to home. But admin changes and we're back to no leadership. Very picky about lesson plans and we have more initiatives than I can count(and I'm a Math Teacher!).

    Good luck fighting the good fight, but I wouldn't until I had tenure.
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Here's the thing, and I'm sorry if this seems unethical to some of you....

    When it comes to administrators giving directives, it's usually best to smile and say 'okay!' even if you don't agree with it. Admins have a lot of power over your school and whatever happens in it...including whether you come back next year.

    I'm not advocating doing anything illegal, of course. I just think it's best to do what your boss says. Smile, walk away, and document what you need to in order to CYA.
     
  19. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Hi Atomic,

    In addition to teaching I am actually one of 2 teachers responsible for tracking students progress (all 500 of them) so I would know if my P had changed a grade because I talk to all the teachers and know when students fail, etc. I agree it could happen, but like I said I'm okay with it. I think the alternative is that teachers get pressured into changing grades. If the P wants the grade changed, the P should have to change the grade him/herself. Obviously its best when grades don't get changed, but if it has to happen I prefer it this way.
     
  20. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    I'm not sure about the laws of other states, but this is certainly NOT true in the State of Tennessee. Assignment of the grade is strictly the teacher's perogative and administration does not have the authority to change a grade or order a teacher to do so.
     
  21. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    IF, and I repeat IF, I decided to change the grade, which I would find very difficult, I would NOT do it with a smile. I puke a little in my mouth thinking of smiling in this situation...
     
  22. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 25, 2009

    Do what you like.

    I've seen enough to know that if I want to keep my job, I sometimes have to play the game. The game in this case is politics and doing what my boss says (so long as it isn't illegal or immoral).
     
  23. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I consider it unethical. But, I don't fault you for doing what you need to do.
     
  24. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I guess I see it like this: The administrator controls what happens in the school. If the administrator deems it necessary to change a student's grade, it's his or her choice to do that or direct that it be done. I have to assume that the administrator has more information than I do and that they know what they are doing.

    It's not my job to be the administrator or make administrative choices. It's my job to teach my students as best as I can. It's also my job to follow the directives of my administrator. Both those things are in my contract. Beyond the walls of my classroom, I don't have a lot of power. I'm not willing to fight my boss to maintain control over something I don't really have control over.
     
  25. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Not to go off on a tangent but does everyone feel 100% that their grades are always 100% accurate (and therefore not in need of admin input ever). Just curious because my impression of grading is that if you give 10 teachers a set of tests you will get 10 different grades which leaves this whole moral/immoral question up for debate a bit. Just curious.
     
  26. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    That's why I'm an advocate of department-wide rubrics.

    If everyone in the department KNOWS what the children should know and be able to do (benchmarks/standards/whatever your state calls them) and let's through Bloom's in there too, then I think either the district needs department-wide rubrics or at the very least, schools need department-wide rubrics. This is what's expected; this is how you grade it.

    At one school I worked at, all teachers designed their own curriculum. That's great and fun for the teachers, but students aren't necessarily moving on to the next grade with the same sets of skills. The other school I worked at (the change the grade or lose your job school) there was a district-wide scope and sequence, but not everyone grades on the same scale or expects the same level of work.

    It's not the most popular idea among teachers, but I do think it is the most effective for ensuring students are graded fairly and receiving the same information.

    So yes - I think my grades are accurate about 95% of the time because I grade using rubrics and the kids have the rubric before we begin the unit/assignment.
     
  27. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    I absolutely love your question. It's right on target and something I mull over frequently.....

    I feel very fortunate in teaching Algebra I and II. My tests are very complex. As a result, you can memorize the answers but if you can't show me how you got to them you're toast.

    Thus, I allow retakes of the exact same tests and quizzes until the end of the grading period. If you didn't get it the first time around, study up...come to me for help....then retake it. I don't care when you learned the skill, just that you learned it.


    My only big quandry is contracting with students. I have a senior who only needs to pass the state test to graduate. I have contracted with him "You pass that test and I'll give you a C." I have also had those who so screwed up the first grading period that a perfect 100 in the second wouldn't give them a passing grade. I offer them "work hard and show me solid understanding on the End of Course to get a C."

    Neither is at all fair to other students, but it is reality. My bottom line is do you know enough to meet the course objectives. For most of my students that means "Are you ready for the next level?" and for some of my students it's "Did you learn enough to earn the grade which is required for your diploma?"

    It's so much easier to grade by very strict, black n white rules with ZERO partial credit. But that leaves so many behind with no hope of recovery or success beyond an initial mistake.
     
  28. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I do understand what you are saying, I do. And I'm not one to make waves, but I'm not one to give in or give up when I feel something is inappropriate either. Thankfully, I haven't had to deal with this situation. However, I am assuming the parent wants the grade changed simply because she wants her child to have an A or something along those lines. I am assuming it is a completely ridiculous situation. Perhaps it is not. I know, however, that students often get their first B in middle school, so I have had parents devastated with that. Anyhow, I get extremely frustrated when administrators are willing to give in to a parent to just end the complaint...it is terrible thing for a young student to be a part of. For an administrator to want the grade changed to make his or her life easier, well, I find that deplorable. And I don't feel that grading is an administrative decision. My judgment should be valued enough so that my grades are firm. To repeat, I'm looking at this situation through my own experiences, so I am making many assumptions. I just can't imagine my administrator having a better feel for a student's ability or deserved grade than I do. He is in my classroom approximately two minutes per month, maybe, so... Also, I could have read the original post incorrectly, but the administrator isn't TELLING her to change the grade, he is ASKING her to. So, I wouldn't be insubordinate if I chose to not make the requested changes.

    Anyway, I guess I better get back to the paper I'm supposed to be writing. Not trying to argue with you, Cassie... :)
     
  29. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    But what are we teaching our children when we give into these requests? This is lunacy. EVERYBODY needs to stand up to parental and administrative bullying. I'd quit my job before I'd change a grade, or stand by while my admin fired somebody else for refusing. We whine and complain that the students don't care, don't do the work, don't learn what they should, but then we stand by while things like this are allowed to happen? We really shouldn't be wondering why our kids are so far behind the rest of the developed world.

    I'll tell you where this leads...

    Several weeks ago I caught a student cheating on weekly exams at the college. She did this not once, but twice. She received a zero grade for both quizzes. She was not happy, so she worked her way up the chain of command trying to get somebody to listen to her. Nobody did. My boss backed me, the faculty committee backed me, the dean backed me, the campus president backed me and then finally the honor council backed me. This student was expelled in the end, with a note on her transcripts saying she was expelled from an open admission, community college for academic dishonesty. Is this woman ever going to be accepted to another school with that on her record? Not likely.

    As it turns out, she had told several of her friends that she wasn't worried, because eventually an administrator would override me if she complained high enough up the chain of commamd. Nobody did override me. My decision stood, and additional, life altering consequences were metted out. She learned this line of thinking in her k-12 years, in exactly the kinds of situations such as the OP described. In the end, she paid a terrible price for not learning these lessons earlier, when the consequences are far less severe. So, the next time you "just smile and say ok", think about what the future holds when these are the types of lessons you teach to your students.
     
  30. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    I think (although I could be wrong) that some of the posters were suggesting that as a newer teacher if they said no that could put their job at risk. I don't think honestly that most teachers would be ready to give their job up over one student grade. Perhaps there are a few of you who consider this a reasonable price to pay. However, I look at what I have to offer my students and although I don't expect this would ever happen where I teach if my P exercises his legal right to change a grade I would not give up my entire teaching career to make a point. By the next day everyone would have forgotten about it and the status quo would continue. If I really wanted to make a fuss I would be better to keep teaching and be really public about how mad I was about it for the next 6 months.

    Where I teach there is 1 district. So if I ever quit or was fired that would be it for teaching. Given that where I teach it is the admin's legal right to change a grade NO ONE in the province would hire me if I quit over a grade. They would consider me a "difficult" teacher who was going to make their life difficult by trying to fight what was being put forward by the gov't.
     
  31. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    "Be the change you wish to see in the world". My favorite. :)
     
  32. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    This is an ugly reality, but true for non-tenured teachers. They don't have to give reason for not renewing your contract. Furthermore, many school districts won't hire you if you have 2 or 3 failures to renew your contract.

    That said, all of this changes once you're tenured and being in the union has impacts as well.


    The entire reason behind tenure in teaching is to prevent situations such as administration telling you what grade to give a student or how to teach your class. Teaching is supposed to be results oriented with a focus on getting the students to a certain level of profficeincy. HOW you get them there is your business (within reasonable bounds.)
     
  33. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I feel like you guys are all thinking that I'm some terrible, horrible person for doing what my principal tells me to do.

    I'm not a bad person. I'm not a bad teacher either. And I have a huge problem with unfairness and injustice. But the fact remains: if the principal wants it done, it gets done. That's my job. It's in my contract.

    For the record, I've never had an administrator override my grades or ask me to change them. I suspect that's because a) my grading is fair and logical, b) I have clearly defined expectations, and c) parents aren't really too involved in their kids' educations here at my school (sad, but totally true).

    Sometimes life isn't fair. Sometimes things happen that I don't like. And sometimes people have more power than I do and are able to perpetuate unfairness. That's an unfortunate fact of our society. When it comes to school and being a teacher, I play by the rules, make my opinions known (through the issuing of the initial grade), and leave it at that. What happens after that happens. I've done my part. I'm not willing to risk my job security to fight for something that I'll probably lose anyway--at least not this thing. I'll fight for things that are truly unfair and unjust, but honestly...a C instead of a D? That's not worth losing my job over.
     
  34. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    I'm not thinking that.
     
  35. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Cassie, I do not think you're a horrible person. :hugs: I just want you to know that. I think you're a great teacher with scads of wonderful ideas and teaching techniques. You've helped to make me the teacher I am today. I do not know what I would have done my first year in this environment without your input in dealing with the inner city. I do; however, STRONGLY dissagree with you. I simply will not do something that is that far against my moral code of conduct, no matter who tells me to do it.
     
  36. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I don't think you are a bad person or teacher at all! I said earlier that I don't fault you for doing what you need to do. :)
     
  37. American

    American Rookie

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    No.It doesn't typically happen and should not. I admire you for standing upto the pressure and not quitting the ethics.If you have the absolute rationale for the grade you gave, don't back off. I hate the parent and administration but not the kid.
     
  38. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

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    If I was asked to change a grade, I would not do it. The P needs to stand up to the parent and if the parent sues, so what. That is why we keep all test in our rooms for a year. If a parent questions a grade, I have the test to prove it. I think with my personality, even if the P changed a grade that a student had earned I would go over his head and report it. There is no way a P should have the right to change a grade of a student that he/she has not taught. How would he/she know what grade is deserving for that student? It is just like mm stated that all this does is lead to problems in the future for the student who was given the grade. One more thing, how does this help the student?
     
  39. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Here's something to consider from another angle.

    Sometimes teachers are bad. I know that none of us here are, but they still do exist. Some teachers assign grades arbitrarily or based on how much they like a student. Some teachers give everyone a C. I've seen it happen. Many times.

    Why should an A student who performs A-level work be satisfied with a C from a teacher who didn't do his or her job? Why should that student be forced to keep the C on his or her transcript, perhaps the only blight on an otherwise terrific academic record?

    In a situation like that, the principal might be the only one who can change the grade. And why shouldn't they?
     
  40. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Mar 4, 2009


    You have failed to address THE most critical element of assigning a grade. Is the Principle truely assessing the STUDENT'S work and performance in ONE particular class for the grade reassignment?

    What difference does a transcript make in the assignment of a fair grade in ONE particular class?

    In your example, what effort does the principle go to in assessing STUDENT performance.


    I hear you advocating the arbitrary changing of a grade based on the assessment of a teacher instead of a student. Two wrongs don't make a right.




    On a related note, this exact discussion is the reason tenure was created in the first place. The purpose of tenure is not to protect teachers and professors from dismissal, but to allow good teachers/ professors to practice their craft without undue intrusion from administration.

    If the teacher is arbitrarily giving C's to everyone. The Principle has a rock solid case for disciplinary action and should pursue that avenue instead of arbitrarily changing grades that he thinks were arbitrarily assigned. If the principle in your example knew it was going on and didn't address it until a parent raised flags, then the principle is failing to do his/her job as well.
     
  41. justfluttering

    justfluttering Rookie

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    Mar 4, 2009

    My cooperating teacher changed grades all the time; all her students passed. If she noticed that a couple of students were in danger of failing, out would come out the high-point, easy assignments. All it took was one very easy high-point assignment and no one failed. She looked liked a great teacher, the kids moved on, no one hassled the admin. and the parents loved her. This teacher eliminated all the stress from her life. She knew she couldn't count on any backup from the admin. so she came up with this system so that everyone was happy. Is she going to burn in teacher heck? I don't know, but I do know that everyone loves her. She does her little grade thing very secretly so no one has ever caught on (except her student teachers). She only has to it do a couple times a semester or so, the kids that have passing grades aren't really affected so no complaints from anyone. She really knows how to play the game.
     

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