flogging with FERPA

Discussion in 'General Education' started by 3Sons, Dec 12, 2007.

  1. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Dec 12, 2007

    Okay, so my son's teacher, in her first week (she'd been out due to pregnancy), decided to post the spelling tests for the entire class outside her door. The class did rather well on the whole. In fact, the entire class got 100%, except my son, who missed one word (carelessness), so he has a 90% and an A- when everyone else has an A+.

    And of course, the entire class felt obligated to tell him this.

    My son's quite sensitive -- probably oversensitive -- and this does not exactly do wonders for his confidence even though it's not a bad score. It seems like extremely bad judgment to me to post something you know is going to single a particular student out in a negative fashion. Especially in the first week, when you don't really know the students. Not to mention, it violates FERPA.

    My wife and I will be conferencing with the teacher on Friday. My wife's not thrilled with the idea that I'll bring this up (she's worried about starting off on a bad foot with the teacher), but I don't really see how I can swallow this. Plus, I'm getting a little tired of the educators I've dealt with blithely ignoring legal responsibilities. So, I'm trying to consider the best way to approach this, taking into account the feelings of my wife, the welfare of my son, and my desire to very quickly join the ranks of nightmare parents.

    Any advice?
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Dec 12, 2007

    I don't really have any advice just remain calm in your tone and posture. I would never do that. I had an honor wall where I would put up the spelling tests that excelled, but would never put everyone's test up there unless EVERYONE had gotten 100. I'm not sure what the teacher thought she was doing when she thought of this.
     
  4. teacheratheart

    teacheratheart Companion

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    Dec 12, 2007

    Our school is pretty strict about posting grades and such. As in, it's not allowed. Students aren't even allowed to grade each others papers anymore. And you are right, it is a complete disregard for FERPA. I wouldn't accuse the teacher though, as she might take it out on your son in the future. Maybe say that you would appreciate it in the future if she didn't post your son's grades, whether they be A's or F's it doesn't matter. You don't say how old your son is but by the spelling word he missed, he seems older. One teacher I had in the past had each student give him a secret number (maybe the last 4 of a phone # or even something we made up) and only he knew that number. Then he posted grades with our secret numbers next to them so only we knew which was our grade. That was a high school teacher. Maybe she could concede to something like that if the students are old enough. Just a thought. Anyways, good luck with your meeting.
     
  5. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Dec 12, 2007

    She was probably thinking how great it was that everyone did so well on the test. She might have even thought about not posting your sons test and thought that that might single him out more, and a 90% still deserves recognition. Not saying what she did was right (or legal) but trying to think from her point of view.
     
  6. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Dec 12, 2007

    Sorry, I meant it was due to carelessness that he missed the word. He's in second grade.

    I don't think she's really committed to a policy of posting grades up, I think it was more of a "Look how wonderful my class is doing!" type of thing.
     
  7. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Dec 12, 2007


    :mad:

    I know, you're right. It makes me feel like I'm in a hostage situation.

    I will be calm, though it will be a struggle not to be accusatory. Thank you for your well wishes.

    Silver, I agree that's probably why she did it. What's irritating me is she actually asked for a conference, and I suspect it's about him being hypersensitive (she also corrected a paper of his in a manner to actually change the content of his sentences on the same day she did this, so I suspect he spent a lot of the day upset). He IS oversensitive, but it certainly doesn't help if she exacerbates it through boneheaded actions.
     
  8. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Dec 12, 2007

    Maybe in the meeting you can come up with a plan to work on his oversensitivty, if you both recognize it as a problem...
     
  9. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Dec 12, 2007

    At our school, we are REQUIRED to have current student work posted outside our class on the bulletin board at all times. I try to only posted the A's and the B's, and just hope I can find enough different types of assignments to make sure everyone has something positive posted.
    I'm not sure I would call posting an A paper outside a 2nd grade classroom as a "boneheaded action."
    I'm sure she was trying to make the students feel good about themselves.

    If a student is upset because he got a 90%, then I think perhaps he is oversensitive.

    I see no harm in telling a teacher that, but I wouldn't be upset with her for posting wonderful spelling tests. Its not like she posted D's and E's (or F's depending on what part of the country you are from.)

    Whether I agree with my school's policy or not, as a teacher, I have to follow it. We are supposed to post student work. She may be in a similiar position. I know in my school, they come by twice a month to make sure the work is "recent."

    I understand where you are coming from... but having an A- posted in the hall is supposed to be "a good thing."
     
  10. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    You know what I would do? I'd bring up how sensitive your son is, tell her that you realize it's over the top sometimes, and give this as an "for example." That makes it seem more of your issue than hers, and I'm sure she'll be more willing to listen to you with an open mind this way.

    We, too, HAVE to post student work, and we are encouraged to keep track of whose work is posted and when - so that we don't always post the same kids' perfect papers while the more average child doesn't see his/her work represented. We are told to just make sure that the piece is representative of that child's own best effort.
    Kim
     
  11. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    To be honest, I had to google FERPA in order to understand what it entailed! Never once in any of my education classes, did anyone even mention it! This is the absolute first time I have heard anyone complaining about student work being posted, unless it was a college-level exam (they are usually posted by SSN). In fact, most elementary schools are plastered with student work. That being said....

    Understand first, that I had never heard of FERPA until tonight, so take these comments with a huge grain of salt.

    The school in which I recently completed student teaching also required the posting of student work both in the classroom and outside in the hall. In all of the work I graded for this past semester, none of my kids EVER got upset at earning a 90%! Some of them wished they could earn something that high! I understand her wanting to post them -- I mean, what an accomplishment! How many classes can honestly say that EVERYONE made an A, and that the lowest score was 90?

    To be fair, maybe what she should do is choose representative samples of work to post in and outside of the classroom.
     
  12. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I am VERY familiar with FERPA, and I can tell you that if it were "strictly" upheld in elementary schools, it would mean

    -no posting of student art work (if it was a grade for art class) -- unless the name was obscured. (So if the student signed the piece of art, which they are required to do, it couldn't be displayed.)

    -no posting of ANY student work, unless the student's name and the grade they received was obscured.

    -no posting of homework charts, if homework is counted as any part of a grade.

    -no posting of AR charts if AR is used in any way as a grade.

    -no posting of Flip Card charts or other behavior charts that use the student's name instead of a "secret number" known only to the student (which is impossible, since when you have the child flip a card, everyone could see who the secret number belongs to...)

    -no posting of who knows their multiplication tables or other incentive charts, if any part of what goes on the incentive chart is factored into their grade.

    -You can, under FERPA, post who made the Honor Roll, but you can't list who passed the spelling test, math test, times table quiz, etc. because by process of elimination, you can tell who DIDN'T pass.

    -no allowing a student volunteer to hand back graded papers -- EVER!

    -no allowing a parent volunteer to sort "papers going home" packets, unless they sign a "confidentiality clause" with the School Board, first.

    -no listing the highest score for computer programs like "First In Math."

    -no putting a child's name on the board when they misbehaving, and putting checks next to it.. (if your school gives any grades for behavior or participation.)


    The list goes on and on.

    Who would want to work at an elementary school like that??? :eek:

    When I checked the OPs profile, I saw that he has "JD" listed... a lawyer... so I'm quite sure he knows all the ins and outs of the law...

    but if FERPA was strictly enforced in elementary schools, it would change the way we operated drastically. Fortunately, I don't know of any elementary schools that fully comply with FERPA. And the school districts have large legal departments to keep them abreast of all of this -- so I follow as they direct me.

    According to my school--

    --NO, I can't put a list of student's names out in the hall with every student's score listed for a test or any assignment. I can't use their SSN or Student ID either, though I can assign a secret number and use that.

    --Yes, I MUST display student work, with the name and grade listed. (Only displaying the A and B work.)

    --Yes, I MUST keep an AR chart up in the hall with stickers for each test passed with 100%.

    --Yes, I MUST keep a homework chart where all student's and parent's can see.

    --Yes, I MUST display at least one sample of EVERY student's writing each quarter.

    --Yes I must post a list of who has the most points in several different programs.

    I realize they are not in line with FERPA, but my principal still insists we do them. The legal department in our school board is in charge of making such decisions -- not individual teachers.

    I guess someone could be militant and absolutely refuse, but I don't think they'd have a job for very long --

    I have these things in writing, and if I refuse to do them, I would be labeled as being insubordinate. If my school doesn't follow FERPA to the letter, (and most elementary schools don't ... actually, I've never actually been in an elementary school that did...) it isn't my fault. I don't make the rules. If I fail to follow the rules, my evaluation would suffer. I may have grounds for appeal, but who would go through all of that over something they don't really support anyway?
     
  13. La Profesora

    La Profesora Cohort

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    Dec 13, 2007

    That violates FERPA too. Maybe we need a new thread about "What is FERPA."
     
  14. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    It's really interesting how competitive we are with one another. Your son's score would be completely welcomed if it was the highest, but since it is the lowest, it is unacceptable to him. It's not his fault, though, because everyone participates in this crazed competition. His classmates ribbed him for being the lowest and he bought it.
     
  15. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Rainstorm, you're right that teachers should not override school policy, regardless of whether they feel it violates FERPA (unless they're absolutely certain). The individual teacher doesn't actually take much of a risk from violating FERPA if whatever they're doing is within school policy, as the penalty for FERPA violations is removal of federal funding from the school.

    If it's not within school policy, the individual teacher probably risks being fired for violating FERPA. So I'd encourage teachers to get as much guidance from their administration on it as possible.

    Perhaps I should give a non-legal analogy for those who don't seem to understand. There are indeed technical violations of FERPA which wouldn't bother me at all.

    All of you, as teachers, get evaluations. Imagine, for a moment, that your evaluations were graded A-D. Then, they're posted in the local newspaper. It's not particularly hard to imagine legislation being passed that would mandate such a scheme. Presumably, teachers as adults should be less sensitive than children, and wouldn't have to contend with their colleagues coming up to them and telling them daily about their performance (sometimes, several times). There would be far better justifications for doing what I've just described than for posting student grades, as parents have a legitimate interest in the quality of teachers.

    So, when you object to such a plan, or are upset when it's enacted, are you just being oversensitive? Are you seriously going to tell me that if this happened, and parents started harassing teachers about scores, there aren't some teachers who'd break down crying? Or, if you responded with a law preventing this, a reasonable response would be "Who'd want to live in a place where teacher scores weren't published?"
     
  16. La Profesora

    La Profesora Cohort

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    Dec 13, 2007

    In my town, this would turn into a "who is sleeping with who" report!
     
  17. TeacherShelly

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    I am almost sure some schools around here post the teacher performance in rank order. The complaint is usually that the method of evaluation is unfair.

    If a district had 100% of their teachers score a 90% or above on a big performance indicator, I'll bet they'd be thrilled to print it in the newspaper.
     
  18. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Dec 13, 2007

    3sons, you just need to talk this over with the teacher. Here is my story. In my first grade class, I would give a sticker to those who made an A on their spelling tests. To remind myself who had gotten an A on the Wed. pre-test, I would write the names of the A tests on the board. I didn't mean it for anything except to remind me who would not take the test Friday and who had already earned a sticker.

    A mom came to me. She was angry. She handled it ok, but I was very put off at first. Her daughter frequently made the Wed. list, but she was angry for the kids who never did. I told her, "I arrange the test so everyone will get their name on the board on Wed. at some time," meaning, I have leveled spelling groups and I would make sure that particular child had words every so often that were easy enough for him to get the A on Wed.

    After thinking it over, I stopped putting the names on the board and just made my own list. Duh. The parent had a legitimate concern, but her anger put me off (she was also consistently a control freak and tried to control my classroom each time she walked in - no exaggeration. This is the mom I found going through my cupboards when nobody was in the room!)

    Anyway, I think you should bring it up. Surely she meant "see how great my class did" and did not mean to single out your son. But she should be informed as to how it made your son feel. It does foster a one-uppmanship which personally, I try to squash in my class. I train my kids to say "Good for you Susis" etc., when someone accomplishes a task. I try to train them that we are all working where ever we are at, and trying to progress. Progress is the key.

    I think you could bring this up in a kind way and get good results.
     
  19. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    Dec 13, 2007

    The school district I grew up in (that my brothers & sister still are in) sends out FERPA permission slips at the beginning of each year. If parents sign it, their child can have their work hung up, be in the newspaper for achievements, etc.
    If they don't sign it, then that child's work just is never posted.
    Very few parents don't sign it.
     

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