Fudging grades on report cards is a time-honoured practice—but it’s usually the kids doing the fixing, not teachers.
Recently, a letter sent to parents from a Yeshiva (an Orthodox Jewish elementary school) in Long Island, New York, offered them the opportunity to request a second report card with better grades than their kid actually earned, lest the original marks hurt the kid’s feelings.
The letter, first shared by The Yeshiva World News, reads in part: “Since our goal is to share accurate information with the parents, and not to discourage or hurt a student, great discretion must be used before allowing your child to view his report card. Certainly, report cards should not be seen by students without parental permission and guidance. If after reviewing the enclosed report card, you would like us to develop a second version of this report card for your son with higher grades, please call Mrs. [NAME REMOVED] at extension 1xxx.”
As expected, the Internet jumped on the chance to point out that this is yet another example of how the current generation of kids are coddled and over-protected by their parents. Maria Guido, writing for Scary Mommy, called the letter “absurd.” And it is absurd.
Obviously, kids should see the true results of their work because that’s how the world works. However…I would love to be able to request a fake report card with higher grades to show my 10-year-old daughter.
Before you get your knickers in a twist, hear me out.
My daughter is currently enrolled at a new school after we pulled her from French immersion. She tries hard, goes in for extra help and she’s slowly starting to recognize that she’s a good learner. Her teachers are thrilled with her progress. She’s showing a growth mindset, which is identified as a key factor to success.
But her report card is going to suck lemons. Despite her vigilance, positive attitude and goal-setting, her marks aren’t very good. Her reading is below grade level, which affects her social studies studies and science marks, and she’s just starting to catch up in math. I know that when she sees those grades in black and white, it’s going to leave her discouraged. It will make her take two steps back. For her, it will mean hard work just isn’t enough. It will reaffirm her belief that she’s “bad at school.”
So, yes, I would love to have a second report card that reflects all her effort and progress because, let’s be honest, a letter grade rarely reflects it at this point in time.
While we’re at it, I’d like a fake report card for my oldest son, too—but it’s not for the reason you think. School comes easily to him. As a result, he has a fixed mindset: He believes that because he’s bright and capable, he doesn’t need to work hard, and if there’s something he doesn’t immediately understand, he assumes never will. He’s in grade 10, which is the perfect age to scare the pants off of him. So, if I had the power, I’d create a faux report with marks that reflect his lack of effort in the hopes that he’d work a little harder, just like his younger sister. (My middle kid is doing what middle kids do best: flying under the radar. But I’ve got my eye on him, too.)
In my mind, my daughter deserves the highest grades in our house, and I so wish I could give her a piece of paper that would show her that. Not only would this fantasy report card make her feel good, it would also give her something to lord over her two older brothers.
So, shake your head all you want at the decision this New York school made. While I don’t believe it’s right, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t take the second report card option right now.
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