How much do you communicate with parents about grades?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by really?, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. really?

    really? Rookie

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    Jan 23, 2009

    My friend next door who teaches 11th grade Englsih and I were talking after school today. After our conversation, I thought I would post the question to the boards.

    I was wondering how much communication high school teachers (or middle school teachers) communicate with parents when the grade is not good. Do you call home? Do you send home grade checks? Do you simply wait for midterm reports?

    We have a new system this year that will allow parents to view grades online whenever they choose. It will start next month. Is this (along with paper reports periodically) enough communication? Does it depend on how many students you have? Does it depend if the lower grade is a recent development?

    What do you think?
     
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  3. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Jan 23, 2009

    My school will also start with a system that allows parents to view grades in about two weeks.

    As far as me contacting them, I do it if a student is failing, and sometimes for a D. Then I touch base again in 1-2 weeks to give an update. And I've had a couple of students where I had weekly contact.

    I print out progress reports for the students about once every two weeks, but I don't require them to be signed and brought back. It's mainly to inform the student and then it's up to them if they want to show it at home. Which I realize a poor performing student is not about to do of course, so that is why I make the phone calls.

    I still plan to call home for failures even with the new system, but it's nice to know parents can find out grades any time they want to.
     
  4. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Jan 23, 2009

    I call parents when I'm worried about grades. If an assignment hasn't been submitted, if a student is failing or if a grade does a serious nose dive. I think the system you are implementing will make it much easier for parents to keep on top of things. We don't do this but I think if we ever do I will probably still call parents if I am concerned. I don't think I'd assume they had checked it (unless there was a feature that allowed me to see if they had checked it).
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 23, 2009

    This has not been a typical year for me-- I missed a month at the start of the school year. So I'll talk about a typical year.

    When we have our "back to school night" in September, I give the parents my test dates for the year. (I test every 2 weeks, regardless of what material I'm up to.) I tell them that my typical turnaround time is a night or two; they should almost always see a corrected test within 2 days of the test date, and if not, they should be asking why. I also tell them that I give a quiz or two each week, always announced.

    We give progress reports in October and February, and report cards in December and just before Easter (whenever it is) and then again in June.

    So parents have a pretty good idea of what's going on.

    If a kid seems to be floundering, his or her guidance counselor sends out a form, requesting test, quiz, and homework grades, along with comments. A phone call will then go home to the parents with all the comments.

    That said, the past few years I've taught young kids. (7th grade 2 years ago, then 9th last and this year.) So I'm more prone to pick up the phone and call a parent than when I was teaching Seniors. Most of the phone calls I've made have been about kids who show no apparent effort. I figure that if a kid is really struggling, the parents know-- they see the studying and know about the grades. But the kids who opt out, or try to, may have their parents convinced that all is well. Those are the ones I'm likely to call.
     
  6. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jan 23, 2009

    I use engrade.com and put my grades on there almost daily. This keeps parents well updated. I have alot of trouble defending teachers when parents complain about their child's grade when they never update the students/parents on their progress.
     
  7. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Jan 23, 2009

    Every time my student takes a test, I put their current overall grade for my class on there as well. They must get it signed by a parent and return it to me within two days. If they turn it in the next day, I give them a "ticket", which is a reward system I use in my classroom. If, after the two days, they still don't have it signed, I give them a detention every day until they get it in.

    Come report card time, the parents are pretty well aware of how their child is doing in my class and I don't have to worry about complaints.
     
  8. sahsjing

    sahsjing Rookie

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    Jan 23, 2009

    Our school use RenWeb to update lesson plan, grades etc. Also, as teachers, we write each student a report four times a year.
     
  9. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Jan 24, 2009

    I've learned that this really depends on the community you are teaching in. When I was in a rural school, the parents wanted to know everything, even questioning grades that were perfectly in line with that student, but not 'perfect'. I quickly found out there, that I was expected to almost give a play by play of each day (and this is grade 7/8). To me, that was overboard, but I got used to it.

    Where I am now, I am lucky if I ever get a response from parents. They aren't involved, they don't follow up and you don't see them at parent teacher interviews. I probably communicate with them more than I have to because I got used to doing it where I was before.
     
  10. Mr.MiddleSchool

    Mr.MiddleSchool Comrade

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    Jan 24, 2009

    The school that I work for has a computer based program that all parents have the opportunity to sign up for at the beginning of school year. It's set up that as soon as a teacher enters a grade into their grade book, an email is sent to the parent saying a new grade has been entered for their student and it encourages them to take a look.

    Also, I send out weekly/bi-weekly email newsletters to my parents letting them know what's going on in my Language Arts class. I let them know when i'm giving quizes and tests and and when they can find them online to view. The parents really appreciate the newsletter b/c, surprise, surprise, middle schoolers don't communicate much about the happenings going on in school with their parents. Imagine that! :eek:hmy:

    I do send emails/make phone calls to parents when I notice students' conduct or academic performance begin to slip. My theory is, I want to "nip it in the bud" before the problem becomes to big to handle/it's to late to do anything. The parents really seem to appreciate that too...the kids will come to class the next day a bit grumpy and resentful, *laughs*, but oh well, I only do it b/c I care and want what's best for them.

    Hope this helped.

    -Mr.MiddleSchool
     
  11. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    Jan 29, 2009

    We have a system where grades can be checked by parents.

    I have seen no good come of this. It's another way of a student to not take responsibility. I try and keep the parents out of it for my 11th and 12th graders. I want them to understand that it is their grade, not mine or the parents. I try and have bi-weekly meetings wiht the students themselves to discuss thier progress.

    The only parents I've seen using the system are those that want to argue about a 91.2 and try to get me to move them up to a 92.

    They are also all crazy about your assignments and grading. Its a real pain to have another "boss." I hear...you don't give enough credit for HW...you grade classwork too much...etc.
     
  12. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    Jan 29, 2009

    Its just another thing to do that I don't have time for. Our work day has become so packed with paperwork, emails, in school suspension requests, out of school suspension requests, lesson plans specifically geared to the latest methods(all recycled ideas), new books, new courses, grading, writing better tests, planning for the state exit tests, calling home, computer attendance...where am I supposed to find the time???
     
  13. Mr.MiddleSchool

    Mr.MiddleSchool Comrade

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    Feb 4, 2009

    Have you thought about bringing this concern up to your team? Are any of your classes co-taught? If so could this be something that you and your co-teacher can tackle together? What about teaming up with the other grade-level teacher who teaches the same subject as you? I team up and meet with the other 7th grade English teachers at my school to just generate ideas, share lesson plan ideas, handouts/worksheets, even to express my concers/vent a little bit. It helps a lot! Just some ideas.

    -Mr.MiddleSchool

     
  14. raneydae

    raneydae Companion

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    Feb 4, 2009

    We use teacherease at our school and I LOVE it! It's how I do all my main communication with parents and I love that the kids can always check their grades so they don't have to keep asking me. It saves me so much time!!
     
  15. ByCandleLight

    ByCandleLight Rookie

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    Feb 4, 2009

    Well, I'm a slouch because I don't do anywhere near what the others have posted. We have progress reports, and I'll call parents if their child is failing, but other than that...I don't go out of the way to send bi-weekly reports or anything of that nature. I'm barely keeping my head above water with all the grading, PLC meetings, documentation, and teaching my lessons.

    My preferred choice of communication is email, but that's hard to do since a lot of people don't have internet in our community...so that pretty much ixnays the online grades idea as well. But despite all of this, I'd have to say that I am one of the more communicative teachers on our hall. If a parent requests weekly email reports of their child, I'm happy to accomodate, but I do ask that they send me a little reminder (nothing elaborate...just an email with "how's John doing) as I don't have the best memory in the world. I've got parents requesting a week's advance on assignments, others requesting weekly grade averages, and yet another who requests that I email them everytime their kid misses a homework assignment. I try to do what I can, but sometimes I just want to pull my hair out because it seems like the parent and I are more concerned and putting more effort into the work than the student.

    But I am grateful to those that care enough to ask. I hate when I get parents who are irate when I don't contact them if their child doesn't have a specific average. I have children with 50's and 60's and you're mad because I didn't call you to inform you that your child has a 79? Why didn't you call me (or ask the kid) about his/her average if it was that important that they remain in a specific range? And I love it when they say that their kid never brings home tests or homework, so how could they know they were doing poorly? Hello! First clue: weeks of school with no tests or homework. :rolleyes:
     
  16. SouthernBuckeye

    SouthernBuckeye Companion

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    Feb 5, 2009

    Parents can check our kids grades online in my district, but not everyone has a computer/internet access.

    I try to send home a progress report every couple weeks that parents can sign and return for bonus points. It's really easy to run itemized progress reports that list each assignment and the grade and any teacher comments on the work with the online grade system we use.

    Also--this marking period I changed how I'm grading my language arts kids, so I just sent home a letter outlining the changes and due dates of some assignments to the parents. The parents need to sign and return this form. That way if their child's grades are lower because of the changes the parents can't complain and say "I didn't know the policies changed."

    (this is my 2nd year, but 1st in a new building. Next year, I'll keep the same system but start at the beginning of the year. Live and learn!) :)
     
  17. read

    read Rookie

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    Feb 7, 2009

    I have used Power School and NASIS. These systems are so cumbersome that there is very little time left to do any other communication with parents. I don't even go to my own children's teachers in another school that uses the same type system because I'd rather they have more time to teach. So far my children are doing well and I always tell my own kids the teacher is right. They often get the citizenship awards.
    Anyway, I think these grading systems are cheap. They require a lot of unnecessary responses. For example, after saving your grades, and start to navigate away, it asks if you are sure you want to navigate away. It does a lot of this type of thing. These programs are very poorly streamlined.
    A few times I have spent hours trying to explain grading to parents. For example I had one social genius who was really able to put the social forces against me because she didn't get for example that a 0% on a test of 3 really easy questions and a 97% on a test of 97 really difficult questions does not average out to 50%. She didn't get the reason for totaling up points.
    Before these on-line grading systems, I had a lot more time to teach. As a math-science teacher I have found that using these programs has caused me to let one angry parent change everything I do. I wish parents would not get so mad. When I was a child, back in the 1950's, I NEVER remember seeing parents argue with a teacher or anyone else.
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 9, 2009

    I post grades online. Unfortunately, however, most parents don't seem to check them. It sucks, but I'll keep on keepin' on.

    I also post grades in the classroom.

    Students can see their current grades at any time.

    For this reason, I place most of the responsibility for keeping on top of grades directly on the student. My kiddos are in high school and they should be able to figure out that having an F in class isn't a good idea and that they'll need to fix that.

    I do call home when there's some sort of unexpected tumble in grades for a particular student--like if they usually get As and Bs and are now pulling in lots of Ds and Fs.

    I also call home when there are lots of missing assignments. The parent and I will make arrangements for the kid to come in for help before school, after school, or during lunch (they can totally bring their food in and eat it while we work on their stuff).
     
  19. kappie

    kappie New Member

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    Feb 10, 2009

    I teach for an online high school, so our parents have access to their child's grades at all times. HOWEVER, this does not mean that they use this resource. I am always amazed at how often I call a parent and they seem to have no idea that their child is not doing well.

    Because of this, I try to call home once a month if the student is not doing well. My situation is a little different, though, because I am not locked away in a classroom for 6 hours, so I have more time to do that.

    When I was in a traditional classroom setting, I never called parents unless they called me or the principal asked me to call them. I guess I've always felt that by the time they were in high school, students should be responsible enough to report their grades to their parents. If they don't do it or they tell falsehoods, that is a problem between the parent and child.

    There was just not enough time in the day to make all those phone calls. With only 45 minutes of prep time, clubs to monitor, etc. after school, my day was filled quickly. I guess I always figured that if a parent was concerned, they would contact me.
     
  20. Ranchwife

    Ranchwife Companion

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    Feb 10, 2009

    Parents can check grades online for our school and as a school we send home progress reports every three weeks. Our gradebook allows us to post grades for a report card by simply 4 clicks of the mouse. It takes 10 minutes at most to post grades for 7 classes. This means of course that we have to keep up on grading, but it is a great system and there are no issues arising about parents not being notified about a failing grade.
     
  21. Southernese

    Southernese Rookie

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    Feb 11, 2009

    I don't call parents very often. The admin won't let teachers have cell phones at school, or I would during my planning period. By the time I get home, there are a million other things to do.
     
  22. really?

    really? Rookie

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    Feb 11, 2009

    Thanks for all of the reponses. It's great to see what other teachers are doing.

    We now have an online system that will allow parents to view grades and attendance. The access will begin this week. I am ready! I had my own program that I purchased last year, and I missed not using it this year. I am ready for parents to have that access again.

    I send out grade sheets periodically that I ask to be signed, but I really hate calling parents. I give 10 extra credit points if the student returns the grade sheet. My students are in high school, and I think the responsibility should fall on the students. We also give mid-term grades and quarter grades. If a parent is not happy with their student's progress, the parent should contact me.

    I do have several parents who e-mail me for updates, and I gladly do that. I can look up the student's grades and hit reply.

    I am starting to feel a little resentful of how much time my job takes outside of school hours. I agree with the poster who said it feels like the teacher and parent are putting more effort into raising the grade than the student. If the student doesn't do the work, let the student suffer the consequences. For the record I teach summer school credit recovery in June. Let the student make up the credit on his/her time if he/she doesn't want to do the work now.

    My class is not that difficult to pass if the student does all of the work asked of him or her. (Or at least most of the work). I do have deadlines and expectations, but they are reasonable. I'm just frustrated with student apathy, and I'm tired of hearing that I give too much work.
     

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