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Grading dilemma



Do you think it's ever OK to give a child a certain grade just to get overly concerned parents off your back? The child I am referring to is an average to above average student, but mom wants him to be above grade level.

I have tried twice now to explain how our grading system works to her, with no luck. We use standards-based grading:
1=below grade level
2=needs more practice with skills/slightly below grade level
3=on grade level
4=above grade level

I sense that this will be an ongoing battle with her until the end of the year. He earns mostly 3's but she wants 4's. Note - he has been homeschooled since first grade. This is his first year back in public school. I've already had several rather tense discussions with mom over his grades. Do I fight this battle or not?


Senior Member
You are the teacher

I have had problems with 2 parents this year over grading. I held firm and they finally gave up after about a month. I do NOT give grades, the students earn their grades. I will not lower my standards just to make my life easier. I work for the student not his/her parents as far as I am concerned. Life is not easy, fair or perfect. The sooner the parents learn this for their child the faster this child will be able succeed at thier level.

Guess what not every child is a straight A child. The parents care more about this than the kids do. Also depending on what grade the child is determines big changes in education. K-3 seem to be fluff grades as far as I am concerned.It is much easier to get an A or B. Yes, I taught 3rd grade for 7 years so I do know what I am talking about.

In 4th to 5th grade, usually grades lower due to the fact that before it was if the kid get the idea an A is easy to get. In the 4-5th grades, content+idea=putting it into action and going the extra step.

I am not against home schooling however, I would never choose it for my child. Just because a home schooled child did well at home does not mean once he or she is back at school he or she will do well. For example, I have two sisters. R was in my class last year, she did very well at home schooling and was able to transition to the regular classroom with little effort and was a straight A student. I have her sister this year. She struggles every day and put forth so much more effort than her sister and just can't get those A's.

Stick to your guns, giving grades will not make it better for you ethically or morally. Then you will have more to deal with than just a nutty parent.;)


Senior Member

Unless you are ready to lower your expectations for other students as well, you really need to stick to your guns. You might want to ask your principal to sit in on a meeting with this parent and have him/her try to help you explain the school's grading policy. If you lower your expectations for this student, you can rest assured that parents will talk and you will have other parents that want to know why this student is getting 4's and their child is only getting 3's. I know that it is hard to deal with a parent that doesn't understand/accept things the way they are, but try really hard to not lower your expectations for this one student just because of the parent.

Miss C

Senior Member
Don't do it

Stick to your guns, dkd1173! If she speaks to you about the grading policy again, involve your principal. Often, previously home-schooled students' parents have a lot of difficulty giving up "control" of their children's education and outcomes after they've returned to the school system. This mother will get over it. Be firm.


Senior Member

No don't do it. If you did, the other parents might get wind of it and then you'll have more to answer to. If she gets her way about grades she'll know she can push you around and might try something else next. Poor child is doing fine, why can't she be happy for this? Don't back down.

Ms. K

Full Member
Can you give her a copy of the standards? If she sees what is expected by the state and then sees what her child knows maybe she will get off your back.

I agree with the other posters. Don't back down. It won't do you or the child any good.


Career on the Line

Don't do it--you just can't. The parents will "confide" in someone else, it'll get around and you'll be the one reprimanded. It could seriously mean a note attached to your file, probation, suspension...

These parents have chosen this battle to pick with you. I'm not throwing out an opinion on homeschooling here at all, but what's on the line already in this particular case is the parents' success or failure compared to sending the child to your classroom. Don't take the brunt of where they need their child to be as opposed to where he really is.

Just prove that your grading is objective to them instead of subjective. Also, tell them that percentage grades will be given in higher grades, but they are not part of the grading system, now, if you want to open that can of worms. Offer extra homework (not extra credit) to practice skills--but don't burn the student out through all this. Stick to it!!


You're all right...

Thanks for the advice...I guess I knew in my heart all along that I was not going to "up" his grades, but the support helps! I had a weak moment!:o

Brooke S.

Senior Member
"Fluff grades"

I do not agree with your response the K-3 are "fluff grades". If the K-3 teachers were not there, then the 4th and 5th grade teachers would be teaching how to know letters and their sounds, numbers, counting, addition and subtraction, basic multiplication, how to read, etc.

Please do not think that one grade level is better than another. Important things are taught at every grade level. I know I am thankful to the K and 1 teachers for preparing my students for 2nd grade.




I'm just commenting. My personal perspective is not that one grade level is not more pertinent than another--you are absolutely right! Kindergarten and First (and in their own right every other year) are definately formative and transitional for success in upper grades.

I think the referral to "Fluff Grades" are the 4,3,2,1 grades as opposed to percentages. I mean, if my child has a 3, does that mean he's making an 89% or 70%??? All different schools have different ranges. I agree this grading system is questionable--never have liked it in recent years. I like the consistency and integrity of a straight percentage grade--that's a standard more are apt to understand. That's just me.

my take

send to principal

Think of the next teacher.
You teach grade X.
Teacher in previous grade (X-1) gave fluff grades to get parents off her back as she was tired of fighting with mom.
How would you feel about the teacher of previous grade?
Teachers who give fluff grade set up the next teacher for confrontation.

If you have explained the grading system and the parent is still upset, politely refer her to the principal. 'This is the grading system our school or district uses. If you have further questions or comments about it you need to see Mr Principal. You can see if he is in his office now or make an appointment.'


I agree

The funny thing is that I agree with you about this grading system, but I have to use it. A percentage grade is MUCH easier to understand. My feelings about the grading system made it a lot harder for me to explain and defend it to this parent. The other weird thing is, our middle and high schools don't use the number grades - they use traditional A, B, C, etc. So you have to wonder what use the number grades have! :confused:


standards based grades

I love numerical standards based grades, but I have benchmark pieces that show what a 4 looks like and what a 3 looks, etc. When I have parents come in, I show them the rubric and how I arrive at their grade and then I show them a sample of what a 3 should look like at this grade level.

I hate it when parents get so caught up with kids being on honor roll. I think with the numeric system you can focus on teaching and learning and get away from the obsession with honor roll. (Of course, you need to meet with the parents early on so they don't equate a 4 with an A, 3 with a B, etc.)


agree with gail

Don't back down on the grading.

I also agree with Gail that fluff grades are a bad idea. I had to deal with my students previous teacher that fluffed their reading abilities. They came into first grade supposedly reading quite high. We they took the district reading test, they didn't do so well.

Well, the principal thought maybe I didn't administer the test right but I actually got the last laugh (so to speak). Some of those students had her for reading improvement classes. She fluffed their reading abilities there too and when a district supervisor came to see her administer the reading test at the end of the year, all my students that went to her for help did not pass the reading level test 1. They were supposedly reading at a level 5.

That's where sticking to your guns is the best.


New Member
Just thought I'd let you know...

I too use the standards based report card. My percentages are:

4= 100-95%
3= 94-80%
2= 79-70%
1= 69% and below

I always share this with my parents.... good luck!!!


different perspective

I had a parent that was completely obnoxious - I have the kids for three grade levels. If he did not get a particular grade, the parents would get upset, and then He would be humiliated by his father. I finally had enough. I tried everything. I decided to give him the higher grade - and then just communicate what he was having problems with.

Turned out so weird in the end - they actually help him with what he struggles with, got a tutor, haven't complainted since, haven't humiliated him about school - and all around he's doing much better. He's even actually starting to earn the higher grades now anyway