SOBEO RANTS: Before You Curse That Teacher Out About Grades, Read this First.

The following post is from your host of SOBE Rants, MarQuis Evans, and is intended as an introductory companion piece for the SOBE Rants podcast that releases every other Tuesday beginning May 24. A last word blog will release this Friday. Follow Quis on this journey by subscribing on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, or Spotify!

Can someone please tell me how a school can have so many scholars with A’s and B’s, but those state assessment scores are still in the RED? #TakesShotOfDrink

Disclaimer: I speak multiple vernaculars. The presence of 478 dialect is found in this writing.

Peace family! I appreciate you for sharing your time and allowing me to indulge in a quick SOBE rant to crack open the door and welcome in an uncomfortable but needed conversation with parents before getting into the solution for the State Of Black Education. Now, Let us (my multiple personalities) begin. I know exactly who needs to hear this (well, read this), but HAVING PASSING GRADES DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN YOUR SCHOLAR MASTERED THE STANDARDS TAUGHT OR IS GROWING ACADEMICALLY.  

Translation: them grades on that progress report/report card are not always an accurate indication that your scholar fully understands the lessons being taught, actually knows what’s going on in their classes, or demonstrates academic growth. 

Grade inflation is a trending action that tends to occur from both intentional and unintentional avenues, which leads to scholars entering new grade levels unprepared, parents furious at the teachers who actually perform their job with proficiency, and low scores on state assessments. With that being said, if you know of a parent who is with the shits, please advise them to stop coming up to their child’s school to make noise about their child’s failing grade, and come correct by asking for solutions to hold that scholar accountable for learning the information vs. begging or pressuring the child’s teacher for a passing grade. Real talk though: if your child is failing a class, especially in this grade inflation-infested teaching environment, it fasho ain’t 100% on that teacher. It’s a 3 way split of duties amongst Teacher, Parent, and Scholar, but that’s a different conversation for another day. 

To keep it straight to the point, here are a few strategies I’ve witnessed as parent and educator to be effective to both elevate the scholar’s academic growth to earn mastery of the subject, and to avoid negative energy that could potentially result in a squabble in the classroom due to this new era of teachers who have no problems matching energies: 

  1. Know your child’s reading level. Being that reading is the foundation to all subjects, it is vital that a parent know this, and also understand that reading proficiency is based on the child’s ability to comprehend what was read, not by how fast they read nor by their ability to recipe sentences/words on a piece of paper/screen. Sometimes your child may not be struggling in math when it comes to numbers. They possibly may be struggling in math because they didn’t understand what the math question was asking them to do. If your scholar is in the 8th grade, on a 4th/5th grade reading level, then baby that ELA grade is not what we need to be at the school making noise about. Knowing the child’s reading level allows the parent to have a better understanding of the root of error and to demonstrate agency to get the services needed to increase academic growth in the skill of reading, which will then increase their grade.  
  1. Monitor the rigor of your child’s work. We all know an easy assignment when we see it. We have to make sure the work our child is getting is challenging them and giving them an opportunity to put effort into answering questions. Ask the teacher for a copy of the standards required for the grade level your child is in. If that work does not align up with the standards, this by all means is the perfect opportunity to make noise at the school. 
  1. Monitor your child’s progress reports weekly. At most schools nowadays, weekly progress reports are issued out to students to take home to parents. It is our job as parents to adjust our child’s attitude and integrity when it comes to those reports actually making it home into our hands, if you know what I mean. Even if we have busy work weeks, or raising our kids in separate households, most schools nowadays have an online portal where parents can login to check their child’s grades at any moment. This not only holds the student accountable and keeps the parent in the know about their child’s progress, but it also holds teachers accountable for submitting grades on-time and giving feedback to the scholar in a timely fashion. Please don’t walk in that teacher classroom tryna make noise about grades if you failed at monitoring grades from the jump. If the teacher is not submitting grades on-time, this by all means is the perfect opportunity to make noise at the school. 
  1. Hold your scholar accountable for their own academic growth. In no way am I a parenting specialist or attempting to tell anyone how to raise their child(ren), but there has to be a balance of teaching our young ones the things we didn’t learn when we were younger, and giving them the things we didn’t have when we were growing up. Needs are automatic, but our child’s wants should be earned. As a parent who is also in the classroom as an educator, I notice many of the scholars who possess the most up to date Jordans, electronic devices, and iphone releases are the main ones who are grade levels behind and/or not completing work assignments. Then those same scholars, somehow, end up going to the next grade level with F’s on their report card. Not a soul makes noise about that. Growing up, my father would have knocked my head loose if I came into his house with the effortless academic results; then after, give me the restorative “You know popz love you, and this is why I had to get the belt” speech. Though he may not have always had the content knowledge to assist me with the work himself, his system held me accountable to make sure I walked in that house every evening knowing every bit of information about the lesson taught at school, then study that information while completing homework. Whatever system that is put in place must encourage and develop a sense of agency in the child to prioritize their own education and understand that luxuries are a reward for the results they produce.     
  1. Value Education Yourself. Parents have to be invested and value education themselves. Academic excellence has to be embedded in the household for scholars to understand the severity of making education a priority, regardless of what path they choose to succeed. There’s only so much educators can do on their end to instill this value. Scholars learn from example, and parents being the example plays a major role. I can’t tell my child to clean his room if mine is unorganized, then expect him to develop a cleaning habit. The solution would be for me to practice what I preach, while setting up systems I can remain consistent with that’ll allow the cleaning behavior to be a lifestyle that’s expected, as well as respected due to him witnessing how serious I take it. 

In all actuality, us parents have to value education and be willing to gain a better understanding of why our blessed and melanated scholars must be held accountable to a high academic and cultural expectation. If not, it becomes a challenging task where the educators pick up the slack by constantly having to develop methods to motivate a large number of scholars to even make an attempt at doing the work; which at times are scholars of those parents who come to the school incorrectly. I can perform my family’s disciplinary, attitude adjustment rituals for my own child; but as an educator, there’s only so much I can legally do to motivate a scholar to take their education seriously. We are a melanated team and a family on a ship that is infiltrated by uncultured and seasoning deficient educators who are damaging our ship. Please execute these steps and elevate together for the State of Black Education.

Our special inaugural broadcast drops on Tuesday, May 24th at 2:00 A.M. PST. (yes, 2 AM!) on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and Spotify.  Excited to have this conversation with you.

Image: Tyler James Williams in “Abbott Elementary” (Courtesy of ABC).

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