General Etiquette > Family and Children

Is 95 really the best you can get?

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Some of you may recall that my freshman DD had issues with her Lit class last year at a private school.  Midterm grades were dropped, the teachers that were "bad" are gone, grading rubrics and teacher e-mails are more abundant this year, and other changes have been implemented to "make up the losses for all the freshmen, (but we will not admit that there was a problem.)

DD (Hortense) is still gun shy about speaking during the special round-table discussions.  DH and I have asked three times for a conference, but each time the teacher says, "there is no need" and that he is aware of what occurred last year.  He can tell she is well-read and prepared and takes good notes, and writes fantastic essays, and participates well in general discussions, but "freezes up" for the graded ones. 

My question here is for her history class, run by the same department chair as last year, for lit and history. 

DD wrote, if I say so myself, a kick-butt theme for her history class.  It was better than anything my son has written, and it was better than many college papers that DH and I wrote way back when.  It was concise, pointed, documented, and the teacher wrote on it, "Beautifully done."  Her grading rubric was marked highest levels across the board.

Her grade was 95.

Hortense approached the teacher the next day and asked, "what could I have done to make my paper even better?"  The teacher asked, "did I not write any comments?  Oh, the beautifully done.  Yes, well...hmmm  (page flip...) yes, well, here, this text might should be block texted instead, so that would be one point there... (page flip...)  Hortense, I want to let you know that you received the highest grade of the entire grade level.  I have never given higher than a 95 or 96 on a paper.  Well done!"

Well, Hortense said she feels rather hollow. 

This whole year's overarching theme in parent communications is "the pursuit of excellence vs. the pursuit of perfection."  And the kids are not to be stressed in trying to obtain the 'perfect' grade. 

But when a student is told that the best they can get is a 95, then you really DO have to stress out for the perfect, because if you miss just a couple of points, you lose the strong 'A.' 

If you have a 94 or above, you can exempt the midterm.  Not that she cares so much about that, but she does have all 'A's and would like to keep that. 

Now, her lit grade is high B/low A.  She has liked history class because it is more factual but now she is frustrated because of this received "perfect" 95.  Why do her best when it will not be recognized?

Colleges will not see that it is the highest grade, they will see that her overall is less than unweighted 4.0

At a recent parent talk, one long-term parent explained to a new family that "at this school, an 85 is a really good grade." 

We have had it drilled since grade school that "your A student may not make A's in HS." 

Well, why not?  Both my kids ARE making A's, and DS has only missed an unweighted 4.0 twice--both by lit courses.  Only ONE student ever has graduated with an unweighted 4.0 and that was three years ago.

I guess I sound grade grubbing.  But the paper really was that good.  My kids really are uber nerds--I have the standardized test scores to prove it, plus years of reading and geeking out and even tutoring their friends.

I would like to e-mail the teacher, but with over a decade of parents hearing that "this school is hard...a B is good...all the students here are honor students...we will not level humanities classes, only math and science courses...the smarter students must lead the others...we are Christians so do not complain..."  I am afraid I will be brushed off and quiet little Hortense will continue to shrink away, because she will not see the point in trying.  Why speak out if you are simply patted on the head and shown the door?

So, e-hellions, what, if anything, should I/Hortense write to the history teacher about the "perfect 95?"



--- Quote from: RegionMom on November 21, 2012, 09:50:42 PM ---
So, e-hellions, what, if anything, should I/Hortense write to the history teacher about the "perfect 95?"

--- End quote ---

As someone who was valedictorian of her high school class, in a school that sounds similar to the one your kids go to, please do nothing. 

I would be very suspect of any teacher that failed to find some fault in a students work. Yes. Work hard and submit the best thing you can, but for such a minimal extension it just seems like a great deal of bother. I had a friend break down in tears and literally thought her life was over when she got her first ever A in her 4th year at varsity. She had never had anything less than an A+ on anything in her 23 years on the planet. She still got a full scholarship to Cambridge for her Phd and works in cancer research/government policy wonking part time while doing what she really loves which is her circus skills.

There is a huge disadvantage to telling young people with great skill that only their marks matter and that anything less than perfection is unacceptable. It leaves them no room to make mistakes and learn from them.

I can't imagine what you can say. Yes, the instructor could give some additional feedback, but as an instructor and a student I can totally see that there could be nothing wrong with a paper, but it can still be lacking something (additional research, additional nuance, bit more tying together of divergent themes, more analysis, criticism of sources, more primary sources). So while there is nothing incorrect, it lacks the extra level. This can be true of a B paper and can be true of an A paper as well. It becomes exponentially more difficult to improve your grade in an essay based course the closer you get to a perfect score.

So she could ask for feedback on how to obtain a 98% or a 99% but complaining about a 95% grade is disrespectful to the teacher.

I don't think the point is the 95.  I think it's that the teacher has said he has NEVER given above that, regardless of what is turned in.  That would never be true of a math class for example.  If you get all the answers right, you get 100.   It is harder to get 100 on a paper but I think it should be possible.   It sounds like it will never be possible with this teacher.

Having said that - you should do nothing.  Your daughter is at a point in life where she needs to deal with this kind of stuff herself and it's not going to have that much of an impact.


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