Beth Tillack Upset After Son’s Low Grades Land Him In School’s Honor Roll

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While one Florida mother decided to punish her son for low grades, his school decided to reward him by placing him in the Honor Roll. The school’s actions just upset the mother even more.

“I am furious and appalled,” mother Beth Tillack wrote to superintendent Kurt Browning. “Talk about minimum standards! So now instead of losing privileges and trying harder, he now thinks he has done enough. I am so shocked.”

When Tillack’s son, Douglas, came home with a low grade in his civics class at Pasco Middle School, she took away his computer and iPod privileges. But she was shocked to find out that his grades – four A’s, a C and a D – averaged out to a 3.16. The minimum grade point average needed for the Honor Roll is 3.15.

Assistant superintendent Amelia Larson agreed with Tillack’s concerns.

“We want a better way of communicating progress toward our end-of-the-year outcomes so parents don’t get upset if their kids don’t come home with straight A’s” Larson told the Tampa Bay Times. “If we give the wrong message, the kids may be content at the level they are at.”

Ken O’Connor, a Canadian education consultant who specializes in student grading and reporting, told the Tampa Bay Times grades are “virtually worthless” without addressing areas of improvement needed.

“You don’t do kids any favors if we’re not honest, if we inflate their achievement or we put it down,” O’Connor said.

When Tillack reached out to the school, she said the feedback was positive. Principal Kim Anderson even reviewed the report card with Douglas and pointed out areas where he needed to work harder and where he had improved.

Letter-based grading in schools has long been debated.  Teachers at more than two dozen Oregon high schools are teaching and grading their students using a “proficiency-based education” approach that gives students little to no credit for homework, attendance, class work or extra credit, only for demonstrating knowledge of key material. The approach has been met with both support and criticism.

Tillack, in the meantime, thinks schools should change their honor roll formulas so that students with low grades are not eligible.

“I’m all for it being harder, as opposed to easier,” Tillack said. “The overall thing is, if a child knows they do the minimum and get by, what kind of message does that send about the other areas in their life?”

Sources: Tampa Bay Times, Oregon Live