As graduation season ends there is an array of feelings involved; Pride for your child’s success, Disappointment that your child didn’t do as well as they claimed to have done, Sadness your child isn’t graduating, or Fear because you have no idea what your child is going to do in the fall. Don’t forget, parents have a lot to do with the outcome of their success. Think of the child as a franchise, the parent is the general manager, and teachers are the coaches. You have a lot to do with the success of your team.
Here’s the deal: Focus must be brought back to your child’s total educational career. Focus needs to be not only on grades, but the classes they are taking. The reason there is so little diversity in the top percentile of many schools is not because of the intellectual divide (there is no natural one) but rather the ratio of diversity in those higher-level courses. Parents should be aware, and this dynamic develops before high school.
Working in East St. Louis I noticed a common trend, parental involvement declined significantly as the child got older. The older the student got, the less active the parents were. This situtation perpetuates the expectation for teachers to both parent and teach the child. As a result, many kids begin focusing more on what will regain mom or dads attention. Their answer is mainly sports, popularity contests like homecoming or prom, or getting into trouble, and in all cases, it is the teachers fault!
Here’s what happens, perfect attendance and making good grades are not important to the kid anymore, so when things like standardized testing comes about, minimal effort is put in their test performance. This has a twofold effect; it hurts the schools overall test scores and individual low scores demean the student thus lowering the expectation for that student to perform well at the next level. Dependent on the school, this could mean, lower track classes or being coupled with students that are not expected to be successful on the next level also. This means when kids go to new schools, they are placed in less challenging classes, however, because they make acceptable grades, no one catches it. This goes unnoticed until you read report cards and wonder why your kid is making straight A’s and is still not ranked in the top percentile?
Answer: Each class level is graded on a different grading scale. The scale varies per school, but to give you an idea think about it this way: the harder the class, the higher the A is scored in the Grade Point Average (GPA). For example, if a school offers an Algebra 1 class with varied names: Core, Advanced, or Honors; expect them to be scored differently grade point-wise. Different like an A being scored like this ~ 4.0 (core), 4.5 (adv), 5.0 (honors).
Typical High Schoolers lack the ability to see the big picture (graduation and college). It is up to us/you to keep the big picture in mind. To some degree we do things backwards.
We put our kids in enrichment classes, have them play on select teams, and pay for extra training until middle school. But by the time your child should be reaping the benefits (high school), they are Burnt out. Every investment the parent makes is with the goal of the kid using the skills to excel on the next level. One problem is, this activity(support) must continue through high school not stop there. Consequently, the premature stress presented at such young ages and decline in parental support as they get older, has them “over it” when it matters most. This is when they need YOU most.
So, parents, pay attention to not only the grades your children are making but also the classes they are taking. If you are involving your child(ren) in club activities, athletic or non-athletic, talk to them about why they are participating, but most importantly take journey with them to the end – high school. Tell them about the opportunities that will come from taking advantage of the exposure and be with them every step of the way. Then YOU will be the proud parent listening for your child’s name to be called too.