Why Schools Should Not Make Excuses, But Focus on Supporting Students.

The best way to improve students’ achievement is to provide personalized and impactful Multi-tiered Interventions and Support. It is a simple objective, but it is a complex task for classroom teachers and administrators. Unfortunately, there are no quick and free solutions. To provide “personalized and impactful Multi-tiered Interventions and Support, teachers and schools need to have the right tools, strategies, and support.

As a chemistry and AP chemistry teacher since 2011, I see that “passing students without “learning” is like poisoning our students to cripple them for the rest of their life. At the same, failing students without giving appropriate support also stigmatize students to hate schools for life. As teachers, we must remember that learning is not all about academics, but social and emotional learning skills are essential to lifelong success. Teachers use the challenges of learning new academic concepts as a vehicle to integrate lessons that teach students Social and Emotional Learning skills. Teachers also use different tools and strategies to motivate students to develop and practice those skills.

 Recently, there has been a new trend of “The Case Against Zeros in Grading.” In the article, the Math teacher argues a “ZERO” for missing assignments would significantly reduce the average of students’ overall grades. The author argues: ” To be clear, a student could have 15 total 85s in the grade book and one missing assignment (traditional zero), and their grade would still be C because of the way that zero mathematically affects the grading system.” (Tamony). Overall, the author argues that the “new floor of 50 for a missing assignment” However, Tamony, a math teacher, did not write the average is (15*85)/16 = 79.68 %. Instead, the author argues for [new floor of 50 for missing assignment]. This is just one of the many examples of how society pressures today’s teachers and school leaders to fixate on passing students. Our fixation on passing students makes us forget grades are meaningless without learned skills. For example, the [new floor of 50 for missing assignments] may get more students to pass, but many of those students can never compete with the rest of the world.

Consequently, they lack the knowledge, skills, perseverance to succeed in higher education and life. In most high-pay jobs, a single mistake could lose their jobs. Also, no company would pay our students 50% of their salary for doing nothing.
Of course, one would argue that students with an F, or less than 60%, would not get any credit for high school graduation. Then, we should ask ourselves, how can we graduate our students knowing that we have not pushed them hard enough to compete after high school? We should not lower our standards, but we should focus on providing impactful and accountable Multi-tiered Interventions and Supports.

Furthermore, such new low standards and expectations will have greater negative impacts in the classrooms, where students:

  • Do not want to participate or engage in class
  • Disrupt other students’ learning
  • Stop showing up to classes.
  • Tardy to classes
  • Stop doing their work
  • Stop turning in their work

As teachers, we know teaching is not about passing students. We wish we lived in a world where our B’s and A’s would guarantee students’ future successes, but it’s not. Teaching is like parenting. If we make excuses for our children’s mistakes, we only further cripple them, and they have no chance of success in the current globalized and competitive world. At the same time, teachers should not be too fixated on deadlines, due dates, and strict grading policies because we know it’s painful and waste-of-time to accept and grade students’ late work or assessment without reasonable causes.

When different stakeholders continue to ignore the essential functions of education and the demanding jobs of teachers and administrators, we are forcing teachers and administrators to fail our children.

Therefore, the most critical aspect of any solution is focusing on helping teachers and school administrators with the tools and strategies to provide impactful and accountable Multi-tiered Interventions and Supports smarter, better, NOT harder.

Do You Agree? Share Your Thoughts and Comments Below. 😊

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