Saving you from yourself

A student scores a D on a final exam.
The teacher takes pity and bumps her to a C.
The student insists she deserves better and demands a retest.
The teacher points out the actual grade was a D.
The student is insistent and wants to retest in two days.
The teacher agrees with the condition that the retest will be final and scored from zero.
The student agrees, thanks the teacher for another chance, and promises to study hard.
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Two days hence, the teacher comes into work early to accommodate the student’s work schedule. He explains, again, that the retest will be scored anew and that the new grade will be final. He asks if the student is ready.
The student replies she is ready to take the test and has studied hard for it.
The teacher asks for the last time if the student is sure she wants to throw away the C and accept a new grade.
The student replies she is sure.
The teacher retests the student.
The student obviously hasn’t studied for the retest. She bombs the test, scoring an F.
The teacher feels pity and bumps her to a D.
The student gets angry, storms out of the room, and asks with tears in her eyes, “so you’re really going to give me a D?”
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There are bad teachers, there are bad students, and there are bad situations… What’s your excuse?

2 thoughts on “Saving you from yourself”

  1. Who was it that said, “The road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions?”
    In prehistoric times at Hamilton High School where the student body was around 90% kuichi students, I used to really get steamed when certain girls used to “work” their teachers (usually males) with tearful pleas and a lot of trauma-drama like “My Father’s going to KILL me if you give me a B”.
    They’d demand a better grade or a re-test….and usually get their way.
    At Dorsey High School, it was the other way around. The threat was, “My Father is going to KILL you if you give me a C.” And that worked too.

  2. The best policy is not to give in to student demands like that. I would not have given the retest unless the student could point to legitimate grounds for doing so. If they could show how instructions given to prepare for the test were misleading, or if there were interruptions during the test, or something along those lines, then I might. But just because the student doesn’t like the grade? You give in to that and pretty soon you’ll find that a lot of students are demanding the same, under the idea of “fairness.”
    If I bump up a student’s grade, it is almost always because they are within 1 or 2 10ths of a percent off, and I feel the student really did put a strong effort into it. But I don’t tell them I’m bumping it up. In the case of your student, I would have told her that her score was at the extreme low end of that grade (e.g., a “C” is 70.0 to 79.9 and she got a 70.0), and that it would be too much of a reach to go to the next higher grade up. If she were insistent but had no legitimate grounds for a retest, I would refuse on the basis of fairness to other students, and then quietly remind myself never to bump her grade up again.
    A basic rule for students: they’ll take what you give them, and do what they need to. You give them all kinds of leniency and extensions, they’ll assume that’s the norm and come to expect it. You set high standards, expect more, and grade them hard, they’ll work harder to pass the course.
    Of course, your school needs to give you the authority. I used to teach a class at a school that allowed students to demand retests, again and again if they wished. Students knew that they would pass the class almost no matter what, and it was a total nightmare. Students had no reason to pay attention or keep quiet in class, never studied or participated, never listened to anything I asked or said.

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