“I’m Tired of Dealing with Them!”

Unfortunately, in American Schools, this is a common phrase when referring to students who are troublemakers. No doubt that those certain students are a pain in the butt, however, their behavior should not take priority over academic readiness when it comes to passing them on to the next grade.

As a school teacher, I have sat in on end-of-the-year meetings that determine whether or not some of the students should be passed on based on academic achievement through assessments and absences. These meetings are very important due to the fact that a student could be held back or made to attend summer school. One disturbing experience I had one year was when the principal and the teachers that had a certain student voted to pass him on because “he is annoying and a pain.” This student did NOT deserve to advance to the next level. I had him in my English class and he refused to do 85% of his work and the 15% he did do was guesses that showed no academic effort or progress. He was also absent over 20 days, which is at least four days over the supposed “allowed” absence limit. One of the grading periods, this kid had a zero average in 4 of his classes. In my class he had a 27.

He was passed on.

I argued against him getting passed on, but I was outnumbered and outranked. If I’m honest, I came out of that meeting discouraged and confused to just what exactly was happening in our schools. This was my first year teaching, so this was my first meeting of the kind. The quickness of their decision and the joking attitude towards the subject led me to speculate that this wasn’t the first time this had happened. It is sad to think that a school, an institution that is supposed to put the students in a place to succeed, makes decisions rashly and based on emotions.

Schools should not lower their expectations of students. If a student does not obtain a certain amount of mastery in that grade, then they should not advance to a higher grade. It’s a domino effect. If they get passed on without the proper knowledge, then the next teacher that gets them cannot teach the required grade level content because there is no foundation. They have to go back and reteach what the student should already know from the previous year. This results in lost time, opportunity to learn, and lower test grades. Lower grades on the STAAR test puts a teacher on the hot seat. STAAR is how a teacher is judged. That is a conversation for another post though.

I would urge school to stop taking the easy way out and to actually try their hardest to make sure the students are learning what they need to at each grade level. This goes back to my earlier post The American Education System….One BIG Fail talking about how we are a country of mediocracy. We can do better. We should do better.

If you’re a parent, please instill a good work ethic in your children so that they will do the work to be successful and well educated.

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