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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

NEVER GOT AN A - A Cranky re-wind


My thirteen year old son’s last report card had three A’s and two B’s. Of course I am very proud. I am also perplexed. Spence is in eight grade and already he has three A’s. From eight grade through high school and then four years of college, except for health and phys-ed, I never got an A.

I am not bragging that I never got an A, I am just confused. What has happened to our system that an A is now commonplace. Spencer is pretty bright; maybe he deserves the A’s, maybe. Maybe from all the proud parent of an honor roll student bumper stickers I see, maybe our grading system has been watered down.

In my day (this phrase is the first sign of the onslaught of becoming an old fart) teachers would never give more than ten percent of their class an A. They would also give ten percent of their class a D or less. I think today’s teachers just do not want to argue with today’s parents.

Today’s parents, parents that played Beethoven to the womb, bought the “My Baby Can Read” program nonsense, only show educational DVD’s on TV and have had tutors for their little geniuses since age four, will not accept that their child might just be average.

It used to be the teacher is always right, now it is give them an A or prepare to fight.

If only when these children are adults, their employers are as nice as their teachers. “Give me a raise, or my mommy will come in and yell at you!”

I did have one eight-grade teacher, in my day, who was too “nice” to give a bad grade. I had failed two tests in this class and had a 60, or F average. I was acting up in class one day and she threatened me, “Young man, if you don’t behave I will give you a D for the day.” Wise-ass me answered, “A Dee? That will raise my average.” (Sorry, I like that story and had to find somewhere to slip it into my blog.)

I’m glad I never got an A. I never deserved an A, and had to work pretty hard for a B. I got a bunch of B’s, maybe more than C’s, and I was proud of them. It feels good to earn something, even if it is not the gold ring.

I hope Spencer earned his A’s and feels good about them. Maybe he is just in a really smart class. He must be, because in his class of twenty-two, fifteen received A’s.


  1. I'm afraid you've got it right: An "A" is not what it was. Whereas a "gentleman's C" was a perfectly respectable grade at one point, we now believe that "average" is unacceptable.


  2. Why has average become unacceptable, when that's what most of us are?

  3. lame extra credit can buy anyone an a with minimal effort. .
    we maintain parents are the primary educators of their children, and so have to reteach many things they hear in school.

  4. There has been a HUGE discussion in the UK since last August when the Exam scores came out and it was discovered that pupils who took their exam in January were graded less harshly than those that took the exam in May. Educators and students were apoplectic! As of April, in the middle of the academic year, the method for grading exams changed! I don't know that kids are smarter or not -- all I know is that most of them cannot write a grammatical sentence nor can the add, subtract, multiply or divide -- without a calculator. So if the lights go out we're in for a spot of bother!

  5. I was a "B" student for most of my school years although I don't recall ever receiving a "B." I got "A"s in Art, History and English, and "C"s in Math and Science. I won't bother telling you what I got in PE.

  6. My granddaughter is in honors everything. I love her dearly, but...

    At her age I wrote complete, coherent sentences. I studied without my parents being innundated with reminders of what I needed and when it was due.

    Grade inflation was a hot topic when I did graduate work in 1970. I can tell you, between then and now, grade inflation exceeds fiscal inflation. A shame.

  7. True story: When I was attending Harvard on the Plains (aka Texas Tech) I signed up for "The Sociology of Leisure" (yes, seriously) and the professor...tenured of course...was a long haired, sandal wearing, chain-smoking peacenik. He told us on the first day of class that he would not give anyone less than a C because he wouldn't want it on his conscience if he gave someone a D or F and they were drafted and killed in 'Nam. He said we could walk out right then, no questions, and we'd get a C, or stay, study, and try for a better grade. It was too good an offer to pass up. ;)


  8. This is so true ! It seems like often children don't really have to work very hard for anything whether it is a school grade or on the sports field - nobody wants to offend the parents of the child who is not good at sports or doesn't do well academically. What's with that ? Sometimes your child just isn't the best at something - accept it and move on people !!!
    Have a great day !

  9. As a teacher, I have to agree with your assessment. Students and parents alike are, on the whole, aggressive with teachers, and neither can admit that maybe -- just maybe -- they're not rocket scientist material. It's frustrating, to say the least. Maybe this is why I have more issues with students and parents than other teachers. Apparently, rumor on the street is I'm a "hard grader". Sheesh.

  10. I loved each and every one of my 'A' marks. Especially in Physics. That one warmed my heart. I worked exceedingly hard for each one, they were all earned.
    My child is not academic at all, is surviving school through the ministrations of two (amazing and wonderful - her maths tutor seems to also be a philosphy tutor and her english tutor teaches social science as well - love them both!) tutors, being at an alternative school and by being brilliant at art. And she is marked accordingly.

  11. The first nine weeks of my Senior year in high school our English teacher failed the whole class, when questioned about it her answer was, just because you are a Senior does not mean you don't have to study hard, I just made it so you wont forget that.