Contacting parents about low grades

Discussion in 'General Education' started by lucybelle, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Aug 12, 2013

    Last week I sent a letter home with kids saying their grades and how many missing assignments they have. They had to get it signed and brought back to me. The ones who had very low grades who did not get the paper signed I just wrote an email home.

    I always hate doing this because the parents always make it seem like it's my fault. They say I didn't contact them early enough or whatever. We have about four weeks left in our 2nd trimester and I have kids who have turned in 0 homework assignments and have lower than 20% grade.

    I tell the kids all the time what their grade is, and I like to write the parents so they don't get crazy at report cards time. But these parents just seem ungrateful. I have so many classes that I just can't stay on top of every single kid's homework assignments. I really feel like it's the kid's responsibility to do their work, and a courtesy for me to write the parents when their grades are in the toilet.

    Am I completely wrong here? Is writing 4 weeks before grading period ends too late? Should I really be expected to write an email to every parent every time a kid doesn't turn in their work? When do you contact parents about low grades?

    (I have 4th-9th grade and have this problem across the board)
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 12, 2013

    Midterm reports are the norm around here...
    I send home all graded work in student 'Friday Folders' and parents sign off that they've seen/reviewed the work...

    You can't please everyone, lucybelle...sorry if parents are making you feel bad. :(
     
  4. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    They're not so much making me feel bad, as making me question myself. Like should I really be in charge of all this?

    We don't do midterm progress reports at my school, I wish we did!

    Thanks :)
     
  5. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Our school does weekly eligibility. It's pulled straight from progress book by guidance. I love it! I still try to email every week or so for the kids who are struggling.
     
  6. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Honestly, I kind of think it is. If I have a student who maintains a failing average for 2 weeks, I call home. I sit down once a week and make a list of students to call home on. If I don't get an adult on the phone, I send an official letter. Now, if I do this a few times and get no response, I'll stop bothering- I did my best. But this way, for an extra 45 min of time calling parents every 2 weeks, my butt is fully covered with that kid fails.

    This year, I'll make my first "your kid is failing" calls after the first unit test, so about 3 weeks into the school year.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    So what do your colleagues do? 4 weeks left is a bit late to pull up grades that are failing...since you are reflecting upon this, maybe consider starting a mid-semester heads up to parents, or weekly folders or signed tests returned.
     
  8. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I honestly don't think they do anything. They just give out the failing grades.

    I like the idea of a midterm check-up type thing. Every two weeks would just be far too much for me (I have 7 different classes). Maybe next trimester when the first exams go home I can attach a paper saying current grade and how many missing assignments?
     
  9. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I do weekly grade reports with the kids. I have these little postcards and I write their grade, missing assignments, and ways to improve the grade. It takes me maybe 5 minutes.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Does your gradebook software allow you to print individual student reports showing current grades and missing assignments? If so, I might recommend printing those reports and giving them to students, telling them that they have to get the reports signed and returned. Make it for a nominal grade if necessary. You could do that every three weeks or so and it would be minimal effort on your part.
     
  11. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Are these postcards pre-printed? What all do they have on them? I'd love to do this.
     
  12. geoteacher

    geoteacher Devotee

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    I email weekly progress reports to both students and parents. That eliminates lots of unpleasant surprises!
     
  13. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    It's possible, but I don't have a printer at work (or at home). In order to get stuff printed I have to email it to the main office and then it only gets printed if I immediately go down and tell them to do it. That's why I was doing the "you have ___ missing assignments and ____ is your grade" little papers. As a sort of substitute for progress reports.

    That doesn't take forever? To individually send 100+ emails with grades and missing work?
     
  14. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Have you considered using an electronic gradebook? If you have the parents' email addresses anyway, a lot of the programs can be set up to automatically email a parent when work is missing or the grade drops below a certain percentage.

    Otherwise, you could just do the failing students. I teach 150-180 students, so my biweekly calls are only to the students with Es (our version of Fs), so it's usually 15-20 calls. That wouldn't be hard to email.
     
  15. geoteacher

    geoteacher Devotee

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    Not at all! It literally takes about half a dozen keystrokes to send to everyone - and I average 150-160 students per year. It is all a part of our grading program.
     
  16. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Ahh. See I use "engrade" Does anyone know if engrade has that feature? Our school doesn't have a school-wide grading program, I think I'm the only one who records grades digitally.
     
  17. platypusok

    platypusok Companion

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    I'm lucky. We send weekly eligibility reports (via our online gradebook) to the counselor. And then a letter is sent to the parents of kids who have a D or an F in a class. But parents still complain that they don't have notice....especially the ones who are constantly on facebook but can't go to check the grades online.
     
  18. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I do agree that parents should be more thankful for what you do.

    We do have a school policy that we contact parents the day that they miss a HW assignment. It is easy for us because we have an after school detention policy and the students nearly rarely miss HW because they don't want after school detention.

    I think it sounds like it is pretty late in the school year for u. Maybe next year u can have a quick way to let parents know. E-mailing might be too much work. You might want to hand out note cards that say no homework and a line for a parent to sign it. Whatever policy u make, make sure it is easy to implement and not too time consuming for you.
     
  19. Ash Inc

    Ash Inc Rookie

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    I know I'm a bit late contributing to this conversation, but I was just thinking about this sort of thing.

    Whenever report cards come around, I always feel a bit anxious about the students who don't have great marks because I worry about parents being upset that they weren't contacted sooner. At my school, progress reports are going home in a week, which gives parents an idea if their children are meeting expectations, not meeting them, or exceeding them.

    My issue is, I teach 8 different classes in the primary grades, and some of those classes I teach 4-5 different subjects. I have close to 200 hundred students that I see during the week. I've touched based with a few parents when there's a large concern (ie. note in agenda about work not getting done) but otherwise I let smaller things go because I literally don't have time to touch base for every little thing.

    When I had my own class it was much more manageable to keep frequent communication, but not with this many students for so many subjects. I can't help feel a bit nervous if a parent sees their child is "not meeting expectations" for something and haven't heard about it until now (not meeting expectations doesn't mean failing, just not achieving at a 'level 3').

    When I taught at the high school level, I liked to touch base after the first month. I felt at that point I had a fair idea of who is not successfully completing work and risks falling behind. That way I get to the parents before the first report card, and there's plenty of time to turn things around if they chose to pull up their socks.
     
  20. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Oct 29, 2013

    4 weeks is not too late at all. You're doing a good job. I'd say even a week is enough notice.
     
  21. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Companion

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    Do you use an online program for your gradebook? If you don't and your school doesn't have one, then maybe subscribe to a service like mygradebook.com. Then tell the kids and their parents how to log in and check their child's grades. You put the onus back on them when they complain they didn't know.
     

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