Parents asking about grades

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by LATechTeacher, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. LATechTeacher

    LATechTeacher Companion

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    Oct 20, 2008

    I have several A and B students in 2nd grade that are making low Bs and Cs in my class in 3rd grade. Parents are asking about the low grades, and I don't know what to tell them. Report card grades are in, and will go out on Thursday. I am nervous about how many parents will call, and what to tell them. Do you normally have lower grades in the beginning of the year, or is just my class? What should I tell those parents that don't understand?
     
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  3. TennisPlayer

    TennisPlayer Cohort

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    Oct 20, 2008

    I have some second graders come in for Math. I would let parents know whenever there is a problem so they aren't caught off guard when they see the report card. Offer suggestions for how they can improve.
     
  4. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Just keep them informed during the quarter. If you can, send home a progress report every few weeks. Some teachers even send one home every week if they have a computer grade program.

    Also, (and I'm not kidding), all of the teachers at our school except the new ones clear out of school the day report cards go home. Out with the buses. Otherwise you're going to have to take phone call after phone call. I'd rather they e-mail me or set up a conference via a note from home. I can't stand getting stuck on the phone with an irate parent.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    If it's a whole class problem, then you need to start looking into why so many kids would suddenly be doing so much worse. Are you drastically different from their previous teacher? Was last year's teacher lax with expectations? Did she let them turn stuff in late, but you penalize them for late work? Are your expectations dramatically higher than hers (more than just the difference in grade level)? Are you generally more laid back so they think they can get away with being sloppier? I would probably poke around a bit and get a feel for what they were doing last year. Just what were those "A" students turning in? How was their second grade class run? I'm not saying you should change your style, but the first step to fixing a problem is to know exactly what you're dealing with.

    As to the parents, if you have that information in hand, you can say things like "My expectations for neatness and accuracy are higher than Miss so and so's were last year. This is 3rd grade now, so I expect better organization and neatness", or something along those lines.
     
  6. MrsWbee

    MrsWbee Companion

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    Oct 21, 2008

    My MT is experiencing the same thing this year. She had a heart-to-heart with the class about how her expectations are set very high because she knows what these kids are capable of. She explained that having grades that are a little lower than "normal" in the first quarter is a positive thing-- it gives them plenty of room to show themselves and their parents how much they can improve. She offered to speak with any students who had questions about their grades during recess or before/after school to discuss WHY they think they got that grade and help them design a plan to bolster their areas of weakness.

    I agree fully with mmswm that you should investigate why there is this discrepancy, and go from there. And you can always send a parent letter home with report cards that explains you will be happy to make an appt to discuss their concerns, but that you will not be available via phone on report card day.
     
  7. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Oct 21, 2008

    I have taught for over 35 years, all grades K-8. I notice that the odd years are the most difficult. The even years are a lot of review of the previous year with some new material and expectations, whereas the odd years seem to be heavier on the amount of new materials and expectations. The years I taught odd grades, the first quarter grades were always lower as a hole, but improved as the year went on.

    I too agree with finding out whatthe expectations were last year.
     
  8. LATechTeacher

    LATechTeacher Companion

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    Oct 21, 2008

    I have kept in contact with this particular parent for the whole 9 weeks. We also have online grades that they can check. She had a B last week, and I took a grade in two subjects and she didn't do too well. Now, she has a C. A lot of my class were in the same 2nd grade class, so I will dig deeper about what she expected from them. I have noticed that they are not very independent when it comes to their work. They have a hard time taking their time on classwork, completing all the questions, and turning it in where it needs to be. Even though I have told them, and we always turn it in to the same spot!!! This parent won't be irate, but he is not going to be happy! Wish me luck!
     
  9. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Third grade tends to be a tougher year academically, so maybe the students just aren't really prepared yet. It's probably a good thing that their grades are a bit lower just now, as it will get them accustomed to working a bit harder for grades.

    It's third grade, not their entire lives. Low B's and C's don't hurt their futures now. Continued A's, if they come too easy, might.
     
  10. swtteacher

    swtteacher Rookie

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    Oct 21, 2008

    I have a difficult time in 1st grade also--parents are used to their child getting all S in kindergarten. Basically if kids were in PreK they can breeze through kindergarten. Their main task is picking up sight words. However, 1st grade is a whole new ball game! The expectation are much higher. I send home a progress report every week that lists test grades, homework, and conduct grade for the week. This way, there will be no major surprises at report card time!
    Of course, every Monday I get the progress reports back with "What did he miss on the test?" or "Why did he get an N for homework...he does his homework every day!!"
     
  11. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Third grade seems to be a tough year for many kids. I would say that to the parents. It is the year they go from the primary grades to elementary and usually the first year that state testing starts. Let parents know that it is expected that the kids have a tougher time in the first part of 3rd grade because they are learning self-study skills and managing their own time. Gather some study skill tip sheets and suggest parents help their kids get organized and learn ways to study independently. I am sure all of their future teachers will thank you!
     
  12. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

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    Oct 21, 2008

    I know that at our school, third grade is the grade that we see the most dramatic drop in grades from the previous years. It does help to communicate with parents by sending home progress reports on a regular basis. Also, if you notice a student is having trouble with a certain skill, it may be helpful to call the parent or send a note telling Mr. Parent that his child needs help in this area. Our report card day is also on Thursday.
     
  13. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Oct 21, 2008

    LA Teacher,
    I currently teach 2nd grade, but I taught 3rd grade for years. Every single year, I'd have students "who had always made the honor roll..." who suddenly started getting Cs and Ds. This is not unusual.

    There is a huge shift in learning between 2nd and 3rd grade -- especially in reading. In K-2 the emphasis is on "learning to read." In 3-5, it changes to "reading to learn." As 3rd grade starts, it is assumed that a student knows how to read, and is now ready to use that knowledge to learn.

    Math shifts as well, from basic addition to subtraction, to complex regrouping, larger place values, and multi-stepped problem solving.

    I used to tell parents this -- Each year I have students who have "always made all As and Bs" who are suddenly struggling. This is not unusual for 3rd grade. Here is what you can do to help your child succeed.... yada yada yada

    That being said, always make sure that grades are not a surprise. I send out grades weekly to my parents -- so they are not surprised by a C or D, because they've already seen it week after week. Don't assume that they will "get the message" by just sending home graded work -- they need to actually see the child's cumulative grade in each subjet on a regular basis.

    Good luck!
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 22, 2008

    I have never heard that!! What a cool observation!!

    Can anyone else verify?? I'm just curious.

    As to the original question:
    We give grades every few months because kids change. Those who start off with A's and B's in first grade aren't always the ones who become class Valedictorian twelve years later. Kids grow and develop strengths and weaknesses. The purpose of grades is to keep the kids and parents aware of those changes.

    So of COURSE grades will go up and down. Otherwise, we could assign a grade to kids the first marking period of Kindergarten, and be done grading!
     
  15. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Oct 22, 2008

    :D hmmm... that would certainly make everything easier for those of us who don't teach kindergarten! :lol:
     
  16. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Third grade has about 60 new skills, where second grade only has about 30. It's a totally new world.

    I send home papers that I record every Friday, I also post them to Edline for parents to view on Friday. We are also required to meet with the parents and give the report cards to them during Parent Teacher Conferences, which are next week. There really aren't any surprises.
     
  17. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Oct 22, 2008

    Are the parents reporting last year's grades, or have you checked their records? I find that many parents remember the A's and B's, but forget that their darlings ever got C's.
     
  18. LATechTeacher

    LATechTeacher Companion

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    Oct 22, 2008

    Thanks to all the advice! I have spoken with the parents, and they seem to understand that it is going to be more difficult for their child. I did mention that 3rd grade is going to be a lot more in depth than 2nd grade was. My class as a whole, has a lot of maturing to do!!
     
  19. xmasqueen

    xmasqueen Rookie

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    That happens a lot actually. I teach 3rd also and I can't tell you how many times I've heard "but they made A's and B's in first and second or they made all A's. The thing is, third grade is whole new ballgame. There is a wealth of material to be learned and 2nd in particular is reinforcement of skills learned previously but building on those skills for mastery. My standard answer is well they aren't in first or second and then I explain how the curriculum is much more intense. In our state 3rd grade is the first time these kids will take standardized testing because our district is too cheap to buy the materials for 1st and 2nd and I have to get them there. Not to mention that this year our scores will count twice towards the SPS for the first time so it's more important than ever for these students to get it....so to speak. Then I tell them that even though these are still their babies they cannot be treated that way in third grade or they will not be successful. There are some things I baby them about but learning and their grades cannot be one of them.

    I just noticed you teach in Louisiana so you know where I'm coming from. Our curriculum is tough isn't it?
     
  20. LATechTeacher

    LATechTeacher Companion

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    Oct 22, 2008

    Actually, this is my first year teaching 3rd grade, so Im not to sure about all the curriculum yet. What we've had so far, yes, it is!! I really agree that the parents are trying to baby them, and don't understand that it is a lot more difficult. I taught 4th and 5th grade last year, and it is HUGE adjustment for me this year. They are not as independent as they are in 4th and 5th. Very different!! We just adopted a new reading series too, and it is extremely difficult!! We are all adjusting right now!
     
  21. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

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    Oct 24, 2008

    I teach first and we give letter grades. They O, S, and U in kindergarten, so we first grade teachers get a LOT of questions. I think if you make sure you bring out work samples, it clears things up!
     

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