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