The Apathetic Student and Grades

At Bastrop High School, we are entering the last six weeks of the school year. It’s hard to believe that the year is nearly gone. I’m contemplating what I’ve actually done for my students. I know many have learned much, actually learned more than they intended to, but for others, what I and they have accomplished is hard to measure. Several of my students have won money and recognition from winning essay contests—some appreciate this more than others—some I feel have barely made any progress. In fact, some may have regressed.

I must turn in grades today or tomorrow. The number of failing grades in my sophomore classes is mind bogling. I assure them that it’s nothing personal on my part, just simple math. Many of those failing are good kids, and I like them, but it’s rather sad to know that I care more about their bad grades than they do. I really do try to set them up to succeed, but I can’t do it for them, and I certainly can’t give them a grade they haven’t earned. That wouldn’t be fair to the ones who expended the effort to make decent grades. I think that sometimes the system feeds their apathy. For example, when I taught in Dallas, we weren’t allowed to record a grade lower than 50.

What am I to do about these students with these failing grades? I suppose I must give them what they’ve earned, then be ready for the fallout from the whining children, the few concerned parents, the several angry students and parents who can’t understand how an F is actually now part of their permanent records. I hate report card time. After they come out, I must plan a very busy class. A teacher really shouldn’t use class time to explain the grades given. These discussion always degenerate into a yah-yah and arguments. I don’t argue with students. I do say, “It’s nothing personal. It’s just simple math.”