Passing students because they're trying???

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by ms_chandler, Mar 11, 2007.

  1. ms_chandler

    ms_chandler Comrade

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    Third quarter ends this week, and fourth quarter begins. We have exams on Tues. and Wed. Since we are so close to the end of this school year, I have an idea of the kids who may not pass my class. For some, it's not mathematically possible (because of their first semester averages) for them to pass.

    I have done the conferences, keeping in touch with parents week by week, and all of that stuff. A math teacher who has only taught 4th grade before this year recently told me this: I'm not failing any kids who are trying.

    I understand her point here a little. However, what could will it do the student to pass onto 8th grade and not understand that either. I have some kids who probably should've been held back before this year; however, in my school district, 7th grade is the first grade that is departmentalized. I've heard that kids in self-contained classes may have been passed through their elem. schools.

    I think I would be doing a disservice to these kids if I pass them. I am well aware of the fact that they have tried and somewhat succeeded. However, they are not ready for 8th grade English since they haven't mastered 7th grade English yet.

    What do you think?
     
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  3. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    My remedial college students have been telling me for several years now that even though they and their parents (esp. the parents) were grateful that they were passed on with their friends at the time, they paid for it later and the price was too high. By far, the majority of my students wish they'd been held accountable when they were young, and not been given 'gifts' of non-earned privileges.

    It's also not fair to the students who DO genuinely pass.

    I do not believe that promotion or graduation are 'givens' for all students who try. We don't give points to athletes who miss the basket, no matter how hard they tried. Encourage, encourage, encourage, and try every means within our power, but there will always be students who are not going to 'get it,' and those students do not deserve the same honors as those who do.
     
  4. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I will never really get math.
     
  5. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Ms. Chandler,

    I think your colleague is giving the message that those students can't do quality work, and therefore she has lower standards for them. It would be better to have the same high expectations and then try every possible way to help them live up to them.

    I've heard teachers say they failed their students when the students just couldn't get it. They meant, I think, that there must have been a way that would have made a difference, but they couldn't find it in time.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Mar 11, 2007

    I think it depends.

    Any of my 7th graders who don't have a good grasp of the material are not passing. That doesn't mean I won't pass a kid with a 64(passing is 65), but a kid with a 55 IS going to summer school. This is 7th grade math. I know they'll need the material. A passing grade in my class says I verify that they have achieved at least minimum competancy in the material.

    I also have a Senior who has spent a good part of the year at a treatment center for eating disorders. For the upcoming trimester exams, I'm looking for her to prove competance on the material she was present for. Right now, the important thing for her is her health. She's not planning to major in math, and if she does she'll re-take Precalculus. As long as she can prove that she understands the material she was taught, I'll pass her. That means I'll pro-rate her trimester exam and not expect her to do all the questions. Is that fair to her classmates? No, but neither are the circumstances.
     
  7. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Alice, I think you're doing the right thing. It is fair, in my mind, to treat students with special circumstances with special consideration. Fair does not always mean Equal.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Thanks Shelly!

    Of course, I did run it by the department chair first. And I'm only the sub; when the "real" teacher returns from her maternity leave, she may expect Kelli to make up the work. But, at least for now, I can't see dumping all that work (plus Physics and English and History and Spanish and Religion) all on a kid in such a fragile mental state.

    I think that, under normal circumstances, social promotion is wrong. But, as with most things, there are always exceptions.
     
  9. ms_chandler

    ms_chandler Comrade

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    Mar 11, 2007


    I LOVE THIS ANALOGY!!!
     
  10. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Mar 11, 2007

    I wonder how a student athlete would feel if, in the middle of a game, in front of all the spectators, a mother came charging down the bleachers towards the clock-keeper and demanded that her child be given at least one out of the two points he'd tried for and missed, because he tried so hard, and because it was the last game of the season and therefore his last chance, and because it wasn't his fault that he wasn't as good as the other players, and because it wasn't his fault that he wasn't as tall as the other players, and because it meant so much to him to get a trophy as all the other players who scored did, and because his nearsightedness made it harder for him to see the basket, and because he had a slight limp from a missed step the night before, and because he was so nervous about doing well in the game that he didn't sleep a wink and couldn't eat anything, and that if he didn't get at least one point he would cry and feel not as talented as the other kids, and, and, and. . . . . wouldn't that be humiliating to the child? And how is it different than this same mother doing this same thing to a classroom teacher?

    Some kids just aren't into "physical" things? Well, some kids just aren't into "academic" things. We all have talents and we all have areas wherein we're happy to just get it over with. But, why should we be 'given' anything that we haven't earned? Yes, there are circumstances, but those should be rare, VERY rare.

    I hated PE and recess and all things physical in school and I still do, but I put forth effort because I wanted a good grade, and I knew that effort by itself wasn't enough so I learned certain things and got by. (I never got above a C in PE because I couldn't strip for a shower, but I understand the rule and while I thought and still think it was unfair, I understand the rule and the choice was MINE to make.)

    With the occasional extremely rare exception, I do not believe that doling out favors to students who did not earn them is in any way fair to the student or to the other students who did the work.

    My college students agree. Most of them did poorly in school but were passed along because of their age or size or an insistent parent. They loved it at the time but now they tell me over and over that they wish they'd been held accountable.

    But oh well. Pass 'em along. We must cater to self esteem above all else.

    That self esteem suffers later on, when they find themselves older and in another class and still unable to do the work. Or, worse, they find themselves adults who still don't have the skills, and have to take remedial classes in college.

    Wouldn't it be better to just keep them in a certain grade level until they've learned what people need to know at that level? It might not seem so at the time, but in the long run? You see, that's where I am teaching now: in the long run. And my students are telling me over and over that they wish they'd been retained when they were younger. Is anybody listening to them?
     
  11. lupin43

    lupin43 Companion

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    Mar 11, 2007

    I have a few students who it would be mathematically impossible to pass based on low test/homework scores, but if they bring up their grade at the end and show an improvement, I'll pass them. I have a girl that had a very low D / high F in my class because she kept "understanding" the material after each test. She got her self together and managed an A- on the cummulative final. Needless to say, I passed her. I say, if they "can't pass" but show effort AND improvement, then it's ok to pass them.
     
  12. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    I think it would be better to just try another teaching modality or teacher or school until they've learned what people need to know at that level. That, to me, would be more respectful.

    I think trying to instill self-esteem by giving them artificial rewards (like passing them on before they earn it) is backwards. Let them experience success, even if it is small at first, and their self-esteem will follow. That's the only way it will truly serve them, if it is real and earned.

    And by the way, I think those on this thread are agreeing that passing kids due to size or age isn't appropriate.
     
  13. hernandoreading

    hernandoreading Comrade

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    Having taught both middle & high school, there is no way i will pass a student who did not earn the passing grade. These kids who get passed on end up in high school, and Freshman year hits them like a bus. Many fail then, because high school (at least in this area) is less likely to coddle them, and they freak out.

    Why, oh why do we pass someone on to high school who is reading at a third or fourth grade level and then expect them to miraculously be able to understand their high school textbooks? It is silly, to put it nicely.
     
  14. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    Mar 11, 2007

    Effort is not enough. If they can't do the work they shouldn't be rewarded. That's life.

    You are only hurting the student when you promote them to the next grade when they aren't ready to handle it.
     
  15. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    Mar 11, 2007

    exactly!
     
  16. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Mar 11, 2007

    I am facing a situation this year with a 5th grader who is failing. I know that the biggest reason for this is his home life or lack of a home life. He is a good kid who seems to really try, but it doesn't change the fact that he is failing. He doesn't know the material. He won't be able to function in 6th. I love this kid and pray for him every night, but at the end of the year, if he hasn't made the grades, I will fail him. It will kill me to do it, but I will because it's the best for him.
     
  17. Ponypal

    Ponypal Comrade

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    I feel your grief!

    I was wondering about what your district's policy is on a student being retained or repeating a subject.

    In my years of teaching, I have experienced those children that are not developmentally ready or socially mature to move on to first grade. In addition to this, they had many areas that they were academically weak in. No matter how many times I have stated this to parents throughout the entire school year and have provided work samples, I still have some very difficult parents that don't agree. They are in complete denial. In a perfect world, no one would repeat or fail a grade or subject. However, with today's standards, all grade levels and teachers are held accountable. What kind of example would I set if I didn't set the benchmark high from the beginning of a child's education?

    I was thinking about the teacher who would pass a student because he/she was trying. What about the one's who don't try and don't care? What if their parents have the same attitude? What if your administration frowns upon having failing students repeat, and don't give you good academic intervention support.

    That is the problem that I am dealing with. It seems that no one wants to hear negative news, everything has to be parent pleasing or you (the teacher) must be doing something wrong. I can't be Mary Poppins and I'm not a miracle worker.

    I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE! Pass them on and it's the teacher's fault. Let them repeat and it's the teacher's fault.

    What should be done?
     
  18. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I'm in an awkward situation because our school only goes to 5th grade. The principal is really adamant about all 5th graders passing. He's already talked to me about the fact that I need to do whatever is needed to make sure he passes.
     
  19. Commartsy

    Commartsy Companion

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    In our district, even if the team thinks the child should not pass, the parents can easily veto us and send them on anyway.
     
  20. Ponypal

    Ponypal Comrade

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    ChristyF - It happens at my school too. Last year the 6th grade teachers were told to pass every student. It was frustrating for the teachers, but they did it.

    This year I have done everything possible for "student X": spoken to parents, individualized instruction, put him next to my desk, set personal time and work expectations, modified workload to an extent, sat with him to guide him through so many assignments. There are other issues too. Basically this student is not ready and not going to be. He needs time to develop. Even though I am a firm believer in giving students every opportunity to succeed, there comes a point when I realize that I DO have other students who need my support. I have had problems with the parents because they are in total denial and cannot see from the examples that he's just not at the point where he should be. The principal wants me to modify his work load. (like I haven't already?!?) I guess this means I should do his work for him?!?

    SO... for this year I think I will just write one last note to the parents stating factual info. regarding student X and his level of achievement. I will pass him on, explain to the next teacher what the situation is, wipe my hands of the ugly mess and walk away like I'm "told" to do. Parents have the final say. I am no longer fighting the losing battle.

    If it makes your life easier, it's (sadly) where you might also want to head. Goodluck to you.
     
  21. ms_chandler

    ms_chandler Comrade

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    I'm relieved (and disappointed) to hear that I'm not the only one dealing with this. Something that is to my advantage is the point that these kids are also failing other subjects. We've even done crisis interventions with the counselor support team. It's just that the kids are trying their best. Without them pulling their weight, we have our hands tied.

    In our school district, it seems as though 7th grade is the first time that kids actually fail... I've been preaching all year, but some kids will just have to see the light for themselves! We've even taken away their electives to give them tutoring sessions. I honestly am 100% we are doing all we can to help them.
     

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