Recently, Upper School Head Joshua Neudel announced a new policy, requiring teachers to “officially communicate” with guardians when a student receives a C- or below on any assessment, has a significant drop in grade, or two or more homework assignments are missed in a single week.
Teachers are also encouraged to reach out when a typically high-performing student earns a lower than expected grade.
The Gator appreciates the School’s concern about preventing students from falling through the cracks, but the policy breeds mistrust between administrators and students. More to the point, it undermines ownership and responsibility of one’s own learning—even more crucial for upperclassmen to master before graduation. Otherwise, the School risks damaging an individual’s ability to self-advocate.
The policy is also redundant, as academic warnings are issued twice each semester. Additionally, The Gator worries about parents, who might unnecessarily intervene with the student-teacher relationship, or influence curriculum.
Furthermore, even the strongest student has a bad day. One bad grade on an assessment should never warrant a call home, especially if in all other instances the student continues high quality work. Rather, teachers should only communicate home upon noticing a larger pattern of struggle.
If the School wishes to inform guardians of their student’s most up-to-date progress, however, we encourage the adoption of a online, open gradebook. In fact, several teachers currently utilize TurnitIn, which not only allows students and parents real-time access to a digital grade book, but also offers various feedback tools for written work.
Once more, The Gator appreciates the administration’s good intentions. But we fear that the policy will do more harm than good.