Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The numbers are in, and I assure you, it's not me

I just finished tabulating and scrubbing my grades, and while there aren't very many "A's" (you have to EARN them in my class), there were also a lot fewer "F's" than I expected. Out of a total of 199 students that I teach over the course of 6 periods every day, there were 26 "F's," which gives me a failure rate of about 13%. My worst class was my 7th grade first period. Out of 35 students, there were 9 "F's." That is a failure rate of 26%. However, like I said: not nearly as horrific as I expected.

I took the time to look up the semester grades of each and every one of these 26 students in each and every one of their classes, and I was satisfied by what I found. I don't mean that I am satisfied that they are failing. I was satisfied to see that with the exception of just one student, their failing of my class was not an anomaly. The other 25 students were failing at least one other class. In fact, most of the students weren't not even failing just two classes. Most of them were failing at least three. On top of that, the majority of all the failing grades that I saw in all classes were not those close darn-it-just-missed-it 58% variety. These "F's" were the hard-core 50%-and-under types - going all the way down to the single digits (even in P.E.!). I have to hand it to the failing students at my school. It seems that they put a lot of work into not just failing, but failing spectacularly. Of course, at the middle school at which I teach, why not fail? The district passes you on to the next grade, regardless.

I have to add, I did watch something this morning that I rarely see: Accountability. One of my failing 8th graders has failed most of his classes this school year, and last school year too. This morning, our principal, the student's teachers (including me), and the student's mother sat down with the student to discuss retaining him and making him repeat the 8th grade. This retention was being requested by the mother. You can bet your sweet ass that my district would never initiate something like this.

I'll cut to the end of the meeting and tell you that the student is going to be retained. He will attend the K-8 school in our district next school year and repeat the 8th grade. He began to cry as he began to realize what this meant. Did I feel sorry for him? Well, as I watched him cry, I thought of all my lessons that he disrupted by furtively meowing like a cat. I thought of all the silent reading sessions that he disrupted by sitting there without a book and talking. I would tell him to stop talking, get his book out, and read; but I would be met with his exasperated looks and comments: "But I didn't briiiiing a book!" As if this excused him from disrupting silent reading. I thought of all the experiments I had to conduct - seeing which part of the room in which I could seat him so as to find the least amount of disruption. Put him in the back and he made as much commotion as possible so that students would turn around to watch him. Put him in the front, and he would be constantly turned around and talking.

So, did I feel sorry for him? Not on your life! Welcome to reality, Sport. I'm just sorry it took until the end of 8th grade before it finally crashed down around you. Here's hoping you get a clue and find success next year... as an 8th grader.

Good Day to You, Sir


The Vegas Art Guy said...

I had a few of those as well. One kid asked me why he was failing and I told him he was missing, get this...

21 assignments...


Don, American said...

Didn't any of the "experts" (people from the district office who have never been in a classroom) tell you that if the little darlings failed, it's your fault?

Mrs. Bluebird said...

Wow, the mother requested it and the district actually did it? Amazing. The party line we get here is "We have all these marvelous programs to help them once they get to high school." Yeah, well, it's too late for many of them by then but they'll keep throwing money at the problem with all these special programs.

Anonymous said...

One of mine has F's in nearly all periods (passing PE, and a D's in science) for every single marking period. He's been regularly disruptive, and last week the mom succeeded in getting a same-day diagnosis of ADHD. Apparently this qualified him as a resource student, and since he was "denied services," he cannot be failed. He will promote with the rest of my hard-working students next week, and he's in my homeroom, so I have to read his name. Mom even had the audacity to ask for extra promotion tickets. I meet with her tomorrow to inform the two of them that they will be in the same situation next year and every year thereafter if the excuse-mongering shenanigans continue. I will also inform her that I am being forced to piss all over the diligence of those students who earned their passing grades. Again, I will be reading the name of a student who failed English, math, and science EVERY SINGLE TRIMESTER.

Law and Order Teacher said...

That stinks. It is hard to tell kids that hard work means success when kids like this game the system and pass on. I was very lucky with my classes this year as far as workers go. I had a bunch of achievers in my regular classes and my AP classes were winners, as would be expected. But not holding back students in middle school almost ensures that they will fail in high school. They don't magically develop study skills over the summer between 8th and 9th grades. When will schools grow a pair and stand up against the hijacking of the school system. I don't expect it any time soon.

Anonymous said...

A quote that has become a favorite of mine,

"Every time we save a child from consequences, we weaken the child"
Jason Dorsey

I have never had a tattoo, but if I were going to get one, that would be it.

Darren said...

And what is *the school*, and *the district*, doing to help these children? It takes a *mother* to initiate retention proceedings?

This is nuts. It's not necessarily the teachers who make our public school system so ineffective (although there are some who do), it's the nature of the system itself.

Texas Truth said...

Tough love is hard, but I love it. I had two seniors that did not walk because they failed. My class was one of the classes they failed. The counselors called about two weeks ago and inquired if there was any way these two young ladies would pass. I stated no, as they had missed two many days of class and it would be difficult for them to get the makeup work done. I gave it to them anyways, and guess what; neither turned any of it in.


I did feel good when I saw their names in the graduation program but their names were not announced.