Grades Are Just a Number: A High School Teacher’s Advice for Parents (and Students) by Kate Hastings

Grades Are Just a Number: A High School Teacher’s Advice for Parents (and Students)

Last week marked the start of the third quarter at the high school where I teach. A new quarter means our online grading system resets – a fresh start. However, to many of my students and parents, this fresh start ends the minute I input the first grade.

Let’s say it’s a quiz. Let’s say a student scores a 75. Now the computer system shows a “final average” of 75. What happens next? I receive a flurry of emails from concerned parents and anxious students. In the long run that specific grade will mean very little, but that often doesn’t matter to the recipients of these anxiety-inducing grade updates.

Over time, I have come to loathe posting grades. My students and their parents sometimes become fixated on the evolving number, assigning it a power it does not deserve. Of course, students want to do well, and as a parent, I understand the temptation to keep a close watch on your child’s progress. However, my advice to both students and parents is to focus on literally anything besides the number.

  • Focus on work ethic.
  • Focus on goals.
  • Focus on growth.

One number does not define how intelligent, creative or interesting a person is. It can’t because it's just a number, and we need to take away its power.

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Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
This is incredibly insightful! You are so right, Kate Hastings . Where we live, parents are obsessed about their kids' grades. Tutors, private coaches, test prep, etc., are all the norm in the effort to boost kids' grades for that "guaranteed" A. It has to be so unhealthy for the kids. Thank you for sharing your perspective as a teacher. We do need to take away the power of the number! Welcome to our tribe. So excited to read more from you!
Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
YES, Kate Hastings ! As someone who teaches honors college students, I couldn't agree more! Thanks for sharing this with us!
Kim Wadsworth
Great article! We need more teachers with this perspective!
Dawn Taylor
I am guilty and my daughters are as well. I look at it as keeping yourself accountable and much like a scale to weigh yourself on once a week or month, it can get you back on track if you start to falter. 🙂

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