Teacher to Parent - The importance of keeping records

Q. My son was given a 19 on a quiz that he says he got an 89 on. He says the teacher entered the grade wrong into the gradebook. The teacher says she won’t change the grade. What should I do?

I don’t know about your kids, but my kids don’t get paper. They think saving a receipt is a waste of effort and space. They actually don’t save much of anything except phone contacts. They use Snapchat, so they don’t even save texts, which seems like a good idea if they ever want to go into politics. I guess kids these days aren’t the hoarders they think we adults are.

Of course, all of that may change when they want to return merchandise for a refund and aren’t able to because they can’t prove that they really purchased the item. It’s always good to save your receipts for important items until you’re sure you don’t need them anymore.

When teachers return papers to students, it’s the same as a receipt. It’s a record that the assignment was completed and the grade was provided. Once the teacher hands the paper back to the student, the student has the responsibility to keep track of his grades.

If a grade was entered erroneously (and with 100 grades to enter multiple times per week, believe me, it happens), the burden is on the student to show what the actual grade should have been.

It would be nice if teachers could take students at their word. “Miss Powerschool, the gradebook says I got a 40 on my spelling test, but I really got a 90.” How elegant would it be for Miss Powerschool to just swagger over to her 12-year old Dell and adjust the grade?

Unfortunately, there’s a teensy little problem with this. A whole bunch of students are dishonest. They are like some of those unscrupulous tax lawyers who will take advantage of any loophole they can find, even if it means getting something for nothing. Their justification is that if the teacher is dumb enough not to close the loophole, a student would be a fool not to jump through it.

As a result, most teachers require at least some proof that we have erred. Like most people, I am often wrong, but I am rarely doubtful. My confidence that I’ve done something right is exceeded only by my hubris in declaring it to be so. So if a student says I entered the wrong grade, I want to see the original graded paper as proof. In other words, show me the receipt.

“I threw it away the instant I got it back,” the student sometimes says. “That was a mistake,” I say. “Now you have no evidence that the grade was wrong.”

Before you shed too many tears for this poor student whose only crime is being raised in a disposable culture, keep in mind that for most teachers, one single grade doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. And the lesson the student learns in defeat will hopefully lead to more critical future victories.

So use this opportunity to teach your child about the importance of keeping records. Encourage them to file away papers until the end of the marking period. If the grade is really important and will impact the student’s final average, then have your child make an appointment to meet with the teacher and show him the appropriate ways to accept responsibility and ask someone for forgiveness.

A good parent should always turn their children’s setbacks into set-ups for learning life’s most valuable skills. Even something as small as a minor grading error can be a good opportunity to do just that.

Jody Stallings has been an award-winning teacher in Charleston since 1992. He has served as Charleston County Teacher of the Year, Walmart Teacher of the Year, and CEA runner-up for National Educator of the Year. He currently teaches English at Moultrie Middle School and is director of the Charleston Teacher Alliance. To submit a question or receive notification when new columns are posted, please email him at JodyLStallings@gmail.com. For easy sharing and notifications, follow Teacher to Parent on Facebook: facebook.com/teachertoparent.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News

Free Times Breaking News