Each educational institution has, for the most part,
standards to which they aspire. Some schools are very
precise in making demands on their teachers and students
to reach these standards. Others are not. Depending on
the institution, its teachers and its standards, a student’s
grades can vary from place to place. What might be adjudged
as an “A” might well be a “C’ at another institution. So,
when a child’s grades begin to plunge, a parent will have to
begin moving all of the pieces of the puzzle onto the board
to assess what is happening.
Parents love to brag about their children’s success. If it
is success at a school with high standards, the grades might
well reflect academic excellence which could compete worldwide.
However, if the grades come from an institution which gives
grades out lavishly to avoid bad press or parental confrontations,
then the grades are only shams.
When children’s grades begin to plunge, there are other factors,
too, which must be addressed. “Is the child getting enough sleep?”
“Is the child’s diet adequate?” Is the child associating with
those who do not prize educational excellence? “Has the family
just undergone divorce, or suffered a loss?” “Has the child been
sick for a period of time?” “Is the child sitting in a place in
the classroom where he/she cannot focus?” “If the child wears
glasses or has a hearing aid, or needs special accommodations, are
these accommodations being met?” “Is this period just a temporary
lull or plateau the child may be having due to growing or entering
into adolescence?” “Is the child grieving or unhappy?” “Is the
child no longer receiving encouragement or quality time at home
with his/her parents?” These and like questions must be addressed
to begin putting the puzzle together. I feel strongly, however,
that the school situation must be right first. If the child has a
teacher who is indolent or a group of teachers who are there for
the paycheck, the child does not have an advantage at receiving the
best possible education in his/her area.
I have witnessed cases where grades began to plunge, and it was
solely the teacher’s fault. This teacher talked on the telephone
to her boyfriend part of the day. She did not instruct the class
properly. She assumed most of the class was incapable of learning.
She lost homework papers, and did not keep accurate records. In
my mind, she was a failure, and the children’s parents began to
see that something was wrong, and over half of the children were
removed from her class.
Another case of unfairness to the children was recent. A student
informed me that his Algebra class had had six teachers within a
two month period. This unimaginable turnover resulted in him having
a “F” on his report card. I quickly alerted his mother to what was
going on, and she went to investigate the situation. Happily, the
class now has a permanent teacher- that is for now.
When the school system is in error, they cannot blame the students.
On the other hand, if the school system is being run in a proper
way, parents must look at some of the above scenarios and seek to
ascertain the problem.
Moving from school to school and from city to city can create a
variable that can be reflected in plunging grades. Students take
time to adjust to new schools and new environments. If the home
situation is stable, most students can make a comeback quickly.
If the home situation is tattered, a student’s grades will reflect
Plunging grades are a flag. They are a “red” flag in most cases.
Wise parents will investigate immediately. If, after trying to put
all of the pieces of the puzzle together, they are still left without
answers, they can seek out a school counselor or guidance person in
the school. If talks with teachers, principals, and counselors do
not help them come up with answers, they can write their concerns
to the Department of Education of their state. Their team will come
down and investigate the situation if need so requires.