HYPOTHETICAL - Changing student grades under pressure

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by catnfiddle, Feb 26, 2014.

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  1. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I've already turned in a rough draft of a paper on this (and I won't use any answers from here) but I'm really curious to hear what my vast pool of experience here thinks of this topic. My case for my school law involved a teacher whose principal "requested" she change the grade of the star of the basketball team. Instead, the pressure was so intense she took two sick days. The principal recommended her dismissal due to insubordination.

    This is something I have no clue about. My school has no sports teams. In my state, if a principal wants a grade changed, he or she has the right to do so as long as a log is kept. I'm sure there are also issues regarding tenure and due process in 90% of cases similar to this, but I'm at an at-will school.

    Like I said, the academic paper is turned in for my discussion group to read, so I'm not looking for help on that. I'm genuinely curious about what others know, have seen, or have experienced. My mentor teacher had a similar pressure to change a grade years ago and was subsequently transferred to another school in the district. Even my dad was once bumped from 11th to 7th grade for a year when he refused to change a grade. However, neither was fired.

    (TL/DR) What are your thoughts on administration pressuring teachers to change grades? Have you seen it or has it happened to you? What was the fallout?
     
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  3. 2ndTimeAround

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    I've had coaches and counselors pressure me to change grades. I was out and out bullied my first year to do it and after taking to my mentor went ahead. I figured that the kid probably did get a lesser teacher since I was new but I'm still bitter over it. I won't even consider requests from that coach now.

    Principal s can change any grade they want here but there is a log of when they do. So when they want a grade changed they strong arm the teacher into doing it. You won't get fired but you'll get punished someway for refusing to. Thankfully it hasn't happened to me but it has to a few friends. Especially if the student is a star athlete or has rich parents.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I feel like any administrator who would ask for an unwarranted grade change (by "unwarranted" I just mean any grade that was not earned by the student) is probably one who would hold it against a teacher who refused to change the grade. Although I'd like to stay true to myself and be the moral and ethical person I know I am, the truth is that if my principal were to tell me to change a grade, I would do it. I'm just not willing to deal with the fallout, which would most certainly be directed at me rather than anyone else.
     
  5. i8myhomework

    i8myhomework Comrade

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    To answer your question: no, I haven't seen it happen nor have I experienced it. I am in lower elementary so maybe that's why.

    If I were pressured, I'd do it, honestly. If admin or my P wanted me to change a grade, most likely I'd do it.

    Some things, especially in education, are just way bigger than me. To challenge that could threaten my career and I love my job way too much to jeopardize it over a tweaked grade or two. Maybe that's a selfish answer but it's the truth.
     
  6. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    I was asked to change a grade just a few weeks ago. I failed a senior who needed my class to graduate on time because she skipped 4 weeks in a row (admitted she skipped because she was mad about being written up for walking out in a huff one day) and then missed more days after coming back. All in all, she missed 17 classes and school policy is that 7 unexcused absences = fail, regardless of grade. She made up all the work and had a B average, but I overrode her grade and failed her. Her guidance counselor and assistant principal asked me to change it and I refused, while explaining why. I did offer to put her on a contract for 2nd semester and change the grade if she fulfills it, but I wouldn't just change it. They said they understood and I haven't heard anything further.
     
  7. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I have been pressured to change grades because too many of my kids were getting 4's. Because who'd ever expect to have a bunch of kids exceeding 3rd grade math standards when you are specifically teaching them 4th grade math.
     
  8. Ms_C

    Ms_C Comrade

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    I had this happen last week with one of my SPED kids. His case manager has been due to an long term illness. I received an email two days before grades were due to either give him the work to correct or give him a 70. I couldn't give the kid work to correct because he didn't due any of it to begin with. This kids just shrugs his shoulders and won't do anything. And yes, I did change the grade this one time. I am going to make that I keep all of his papers this six weeks as documentation for his lack of effort.
     
  9. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Admin makes it very clear that if you plan on failing a child, especially a Senior, you are on your own. So you better be sure that you can't find a way to give the child a 60% (minimum passing grade) because when the parents are raging at you and the student is raging at you, you will be on your own.

    I've also heard of Admin asking HS teachers to change grades at my school (not so much MS) so kids will pass. The teacher can refuse, of course, but if a teacher fails too many students it will come back to haunt them. And when you refuse Admin, that can also come back to haunt you.
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

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    I will add that I have changed my philosophy on grading because of this type of thing. In the past I would create fluff assignments to help build self esteem and encourage participation when interest started to wane. They would end up biting me in the butt when someone came to advocate for the kid. "But Johnny earned an A on this assignment, he's just not good at tests!" Or some BS like that.

    If a student has a 65 because of gimme grades there is a bigger chance of someone saying something to me than if he gets a 60 which is closer to his true abilitIes and effort.
     
  11. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    It is has never happened to me, but it happened to a colleague of mine. She was told to change a quarter grade from an "F" to a "D" of a student. She did, but wasn't happy about it. This was years ago

    I think this should be getting more rare with grades being accessed on the internet. Parents have access to all their child's grades and I couldn't see a P asking to change a grade now that grades are more public. I'm not saying it can't happen or doesn't happen, but I believe it is getting more rare.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

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    I get requests, not just from students, to change Bs to As and Cs to Bs. To change a 61 to a 67 so kids can remain eligible for sports. Uh, no. If he can't pass a required class he shouldn't be on a team to start.
     
  13. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    a few years back I was approached by a coach and principal about a player/senior's failing mark. I offered a make up assignment but the f stayed when the student blatantly stole an essay off the net and claimed it as his own. The principal might have gone in and changed the grade on his own, but I certainly didn't.
     
  14. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Yes, it happened to me – my first year teaching in the city, no less - and it was a terrible, terrible experience that went on over the course of a few years.

    I had a senior “All-City” football player in my second period English class who missed 158 of 180 periods the entire school year. I learned that he used to sit in the “Dean of Students” office most days watching television and eating take-out food, as did many of the kids who were regular discipline problems. Now, I was told in the beginning of the year by a veteran teacher that I would probably be expected to pass him, but since the number of absences appears on the report card along with the grade, I thought, “Since this kid is so high-profile, the principal is probably going to look at the 158 absences and wonder how I could possibly pass him.” Little did I realize that questions didn’t arise when you passed an undeserving student, questions arose when you DIDN’T.

    Anyway, I discovered at the time that I wasn’t alone; he had failed a Spanish and a Business class along with mine. The Dean of Students approached all three of us asking us to pass the football player…..unbeknownst to me, the Spanish teacher changed the “F” to an “A” and the Business teacher changed the “F” to a “C.” Again, I had no idea that this was the way things were done and I simply told the guy I didn’t see how I could justify passing a student with that many absences. (If someone had pulled me aside and flat out told me, “Do it, or else,” or “This is the way things are always done,” I would’ve done it. Plus, I thought I was only one of three teachers failing him.)

    This kid was a Division One college football prospect with some newspaper writers saying he had National Football League potential. So, no surprise, during the last days of the school year, I had a steady stream of relatives and others interested in this “meal ticket” – errr, I mean student, showing up at my classroom door screaming at me during classes. (The Dean of Students, in charge of school security, would’ve been the person to restrict their access or make sure they weren’t armed when they came into the building.) These adults also contacted a community organization, “Parents United for Better Schools,” to try to legally obtain my student records for them to examine. This Dean of Students also had some of his regular disciplinary problem students vandalize a car they thought was mine – smashing the windshield.

    Well, the “F” stood up, but one of the main office people told me that the principal growled that I had “embarrassed the school” by failing him.

    In the following years, books I ordered never showed up, my classroom was changed in mid-year a couple of times, I was made a “floating teacher” one year, my class rosters were regularly stocked with the biggest problem kids in the school, the principal submitted my name for “excessive absences” to the school district when I had to serve two days to testify about a violent incident in our school, and the same main office person revealed to me that the principal had put me on a “Hit List” to manufacture bad observations, etc. in an effort to get me fired. Fortunately that summer I was hired by another district before he could get started.

    Since that time, I’ve seen grade-change-pressuring in one way or another pretty much as a matter of routine. :dizzy:

    I didn’t mean for this post to go as long as it has, but I wanted to give you as thorough a response as I possibly could.
     
  15. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Wow, these are some crazy, even heartbreaking stories. It doesn't sound like people had a lot of recourse.
     
  16. RadiantBerg

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    It's interesting most of you are pressured to give high grades. While the parents may pressure us that way, the admin pressures us to make sure we don't just give all As and Bs. They want to see more of a range (not necessarily Fs, but at least a handful of Cs and Ds).
     
  17. bros

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    I know when I was in HS, a few of my teachers were pressured into changing my grades, which I was displeased with.

    Once, it was a discriminatory spanish teacher who wanted to fail me because I can't write and my case manager who was her best friend supported her decision to fail me, so my guidance counselor stepped in along with the principal to yell at the teacher.

    Another time, it was a Geometry class, where I had low grades the entire year (something like 75, 73, 72, 70, and a 53 on the midterm), then I had a seizure, and was absent for the last week and a half of the school year and unable to make up the final (as the district wanted me to take it in the un-air conditioned school in the middle of the summer with the nurse who confused a seizure in a person with epilepsy with syncope, my parents and doctor both objected). Somehow, I passed that class with a 75, even though I never took the final.

    Yeah.
     
  18. GTB4GT

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    I am following this thread with great interest as my P keeps talking to me about 2-3 students who are seniors and are 'at risk' for failing my class. In fact, they probably will unless there is a drastic change of events between now and the end of the school year. He hasn't threatened me with my job but no doubt there is pressure as he brings up the subject about 2-3 times a week.

    I will "give them" (hate the term) the grade that was earned and documented. I suppose they (admin) have the authority to go in and change the grade if they wish. But I am not.Want to see how this plays out. If I am not invited back, I have decided that I don't want to be part of a school that passes everybody who shows up. I don't see anything productive or worthwhile in that. I think it is demeaning to the efforts of the students who actually do the work and to the teachers who put effort into teaching and further degrades the climate of the school. Why would a borderline academic kid do any work whatsoever if he understands he is going to graduate regardless of what he or she does or doesn't do.
     
  19. Major

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    Very interesting post, Reality Check. I find it incredibly disgusting that you were exposed to such pressure to change a grade of a star jock (or anyone else for that matter). Seems to me your admin has very little integrity. What a waste of tax payers money... :2cents:
     
  20. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I have heard those stories for years. My first year I gave a kid an A in math (7th grade). He had all F's but mine. He made it to my class about 2-3 days a week so when he showed up I gave him quizzes and tests. He aced them. So I figured he knew the material and this would "encourage" him to give school more of a try. I was over ruled but I had the evidence in my grade book. When I was in HS I saw grades changed once for football. It was easy as most of the coaches taught science or other subjects.
    Priorities...... Priorities......
     
  21. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    The worst student I ever had is an athlete. The kid had a 42 in my class. He never turned in anything on time and I suspected cheating on most of the things he did turn in. He is evil. Not misunderstood, not disadvantaged, but evil to the core. He is the only student I have ever called the cops on. But he is a heck of a baseball player. I had one coach tell me to change his grade. He said that WE won't win much without him on the field. I'm ok with that. Another coach said the kid would probably dropout if he couldn't play. And any crimes he committed during the day would be my fault. @@
     
  22. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    I have to wonder what percentage of high schools across the nation take a "change the grade for the good of the team" approach .... 25%, 50%, 75% ??? Guess I'm appalled at what I've read.......
     
  23. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I'm rather shocked at well, and I'm getting PMs from other teachers who didn't want their stories in a public forum. The crazy thing is that I cannot find a legal case showing when a teacher has fought back against punitive actions taken by the school.
     
  24. teacherguy111

    teacherguy111 Cohort

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    I have not experienced this and hopefully won't...
     
  25. CindyBlue

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    In California...
    Education Code section 49066 states:
    (a)
    When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a school district, the grade given to each pupil shall be the grade determined by the teacher of the course and the determination of the pupil’s grade by the teacher, in the absence of clerical or mechanical mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final.

    (b)
    The governing board of the school district and the superintendent of such district shall not order a pupil’s grade to be changed unless the teacher who determined such grade is, to the extent practicable, given an opportunity to state orally, in writing, or both, the reasons for which such grade was given and is, to the extent practicable, included in all discussions relating to the changing of such grade."

    It's "b" that scares me...seems that they can change the grades as long as we are "included in all discussions"?
     
  26. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Seems to me that (a) and (b) are quite contradictory. (a) says the teachers grade is final. (b) says could you (CindyBlue) please explain why you gave an F"" to Johnny Football?
     
  27. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Well, word around my school is that, as a 1st year AND especially a non-tenured teacher, I am to fail NO ONE!!! Even if I know my students are not doing anything, I must find a way to "pass" everyone..... :eek:
     
  28. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    PMing you as well.
     
  29. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Passing those who can't or wont do the work is pathetic ...... :2cents:
     
  30. TheMisterC

    TheMisterC New Member

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    I am a brand new teacher myself, going into high school science, and I am concerned I will be faced with this challenge.

    I was a high school athlete but had a strong GPA and was never involved in this from a student perspective.

    It appears like this is an ongoing issue. Thanks for the tips.
     
  31. TheMisterC

    TheMisterC New Member

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    Well I'll be darned...really? That's upsetting.

    At least your students are "catching a break" I suppose...

    :|
     
  32. GTB4GT

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    I don't think anyone would know the overall % but the fact that it does go on is not surprising due to pressure on the admin for "graduation rates". what is the easiest way to get or maintain graduation rates? the answer is obvious. I am guessing that our 94% graduation rate would be along the lines of 75% (just guessing) without artificial support or inflation.
     
  33. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    If what you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt your numbers) then clearly there is a major lack of integrity in our education system.
     
  34. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    I don't need any job badly enough to sacrifice my ethical obligations.

    Jobs are easy to find; self-loathing isn't quite so easy to shrug off.
     
  35. GTB4GT

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    Let me clarify...my "guesstimates" were for my school only. No idea what it would be elsewhere or nationally.

    We have a new P. I think he has inherited the mess (it obviously has gone on under previous regimes) and has chosen to perpetuate it - he's too close to retirement (I'm guessing his motivation here) to want to fight the system.
     
  36. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    +1. totally agree with this.
     
  37. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    OK ..... then surely someone here has some idea (just an rough estimate) about the percentage of students who are pushed out the door with a diploma .... which they didn't earn..... Come on teachers ....Anyone??
     
  38. mr_post22

    mr_post22 Companion

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    I have had principals, coaches, parents, and students ask me to change a grade. I tell them flat out NO! I tell them to read the contract that the STUDENT and the PARENT signed at the beginning of the year saying I will not change grades under any circumstances. And as usual, we loose the game, everyone hates me, my car gets egged by members of the team, the security camera catches the student or team egging my car, and they get OSS which no longer allows them to participate in sports for that school year. Than EVERYONE hates me. No big deal. Just stand for what YOU believe in as a teacher. Remember you are the teacher, not the cheerleader. If a student doesn't perform in the class, they shouldn't perform on the team.
     
  39. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Apologies if everyone's on another topic now, I didn't read through the pages.

    Some of you might remember last year at the end of the year our director promised every kid who went to some special event 5 points to any final grade to any class. 5 percentage points. Meaning if they had a 70 in my class, they could tell me they were adding points and they would have a 75. They could even split the points 2 in one class, 3 in another, etc.

    All teachers were infuriated. I mean why do I even grade papers and put in all this work if my director at the end of the year is just going to change everyone's grade?

    Even after those points were added I still had various kids failing my class, and they were failing another. The director brought in me and the other teacher to ask if we would consider giving them passing grades. My answer "no". If they were concerned about passing my class, they would have put in more work at the beginning of the year. Or hell, even the middle of the year! Or at least pretended to care by the end!

    So yeah, administration grade override is a sore spot for me. I really don't like it.

    ---

    Just went through and read this page- I was a swimmer on my university swim team and my grades were excellent. Never once did I assume I would get special grade treatment as an athlete. Then again, swimming is surely not the big revenue sport of a university!

    The only time I got "special" treatment was when I was in a very awful car crash halfway through my first semester of my senior year. Two teachers allowed me to stay with my family (I was incapable of living on my own due to severe injuries) and do all my work online. My student teaching teacher gave me an Incomplete and I completed the hours the next semester.
     
  40. i8myhomework

    i8myhomework Comrade

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    I cheered and got special privileges/treatment. It's just such a hard thing to discuss. How can I be against something that I was the biggest beneficiary of without looking like a hypocrite.

    Hopefully I'll never be in that situation. After reading a few stories on here I understand why those teachers did what they did.
     
  41. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Why should a cheerleader get special treatment?
     
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