Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Letter to Parents of a Student with an 89%

Disclaimer: No, this post is not about any one situation in particular.  I have been teaching for over a decade and it is a conglomerate of about 1300 students and my experiences, along with the experiences of good friends within several entirely different school districts in several states as well as sassy figments of my imagination (obviously).

** It is also part of a training that I intend to give on Standards Based Instruction/Assessment at some point in life, so stay tuned for that!**

If you have been in the education system where you had to assess work in a traditional point-based system, …..your welcome, I am about to write things you have been thinking.

Dear Parents of a Student with an 89%,

Your student is a good student, a very good student!  89%! Wow! Nice work student, high five! They have earned a summation of 89% of the credit assigned to all assignments within one academic quarter.  I’m sorry that’s not to your satisfaction.  While this may feel like a personal blow to you/your student, it’s not.  I did not randomly assign this grade to your student - they earned it.  As you know, during the quarter I enter grades into a computerized grading system and it uses the pre-set expectations I have decided upon- (these expectations were given out at open house, parent teacher conferences and posted to my website) to spit out an average. No, I do not offer extra credit.  No, they cannot bring in a canned good or dress up in school colors to earn back that 1 point….  And by the way, its not just one point, it’s one percent of all points assigned from the entire quarter.

Just to be clear, I did not personally keep your student off of high honor roll, they did it themselves.  No, I don’t hate them. No, I don’t hate you.  Is there anything they can do? Yes, please have them try 1% harder next quarter.  Is it sad that their grandparents will not see their name printed in the newspaper with the other children in the all A’s section? – maybe?  Unfortunately, they will have to “slum it up” with the other regular honor roll students in the section printed below it.  I guarantee they will still become successful adults.  If they are interested, they will get into a college.  If they are athletically gifted, they will earn a sports scholarship.  The 89% they earned one quarter in my class will neither be a help, nor a hindrance in either situation. 

Your student is a good student and they are earning an 89%!  If the other 11% of their energy was invested in something else this quarter (a different class, their family, their job, their appearance, the opposite sex, what their peers are wearing, what their peers are doing, annoying you, face timing, tweeting, snapping, posting, thinking about touching or actually touching, smoking, drinking, driving, drinking while driving, using drugs,) then I would say we are collectively winning the battle.  I am here to help and (I know this stings)…but I may know things about your child that you don't, so don’t bite the hand that feeds.

Not satisfied with that answer? Please don’t take to the weekly town paper or social media venues to slander my school/name/grading expectations.  I get it, your fierce tiger parent instincts are coming out– but your privacy setting are not tight and with six degrees of separation I will find out and then I will be annoyed – not shocked – but annoyed.  Perhaps you should have your child help you tighten up those settings.

Yes, I will meet with your student, you, the department head, administration, their grieving grandparents or the pope himself to discuss this grade of 89%, if this is that important to you.  However, your student hasn’t skipped a beat and looks happy and healthy per usual.

To be honest, I have my own tiger-mom-ish business to attend to.  I am thinking about other things when I leave work: Do my children have manners? Are they kind? Did I remember to pack them mittens for daycare?  Will my kid need surgery for that weird gastrointestinal thing that just happened? Will I be able to pay for heating oil upfront or will I have to charge it? Do we need milk (again)? When will I stop stress eating and lose my baby weight? When will I be able to go on a date with my husband?  The list goes on and on and on.  See how your student’s 89% didn’t make it in there? That’s because your student is a good student.  Take a breath and have a cocktail, you are doing a good job and so are they!

Talk to you soon,

One of the 50+ teachers your child will have throughout their educational career…

P.S. – In a school with only standards based instruction and assessment, this letter would not exist.  
Just sayin'.


  1. This is fabulous! I read it a few days ago and then today a colleague started telling me a story about her student who was complaining about getting an 89 on a test. It's a slightly different scenario, but I printed this out and shared it with her and she loved it also. Nice job, Patchy! Lerner

  2. Hey Lerner! Thanks for reading and sharing with another teacher friend. It's all about the story, right?

  3. What about a student getting their first A- ;-)