Making the grade [updated]

This post is written a bit ass backwards, but I think that makes it clearer. The events happened her first year in high school.

At the end of Pearlsky’s first quarter of high school, her report card came home. Strange in it’s own right, but ok. Turns out, she got all A’s! Ah, the proud father I was. I laughed and tossed it aside. Hell, I never got all A’s …

Second quarter, her report card comes home. Not sure why I looked, but here were some A- grades. I let this sit a few days and wrote an email to the district administrator for Special Ed, who was a friend. I will share that email afterwards (this is the ass backwards part). I found that over the few days, I was getting more and more perturbed. So, what’s a father to do? Well, what’s THIS father to do? I wrote an email to her teacher …

Can you explain why my daughter’s grades have fallen?

Nice and simple. To which the teacher responds …

The grades given on the report card were meant to show your daughter’s progress in comparison to what she had done previously in the first quarter.

Ignoring the fact that she cannot communicate AT ALL, and that grades in math and science are a complete and total farce, and ignoring the fact that there is no possible concept of progress or comparison, I wrote back. I can only assume that either the teacher knowingly gave me this opening to eviscerate her, or I am a sadistic so-and-so. I responded (cc’ing just about everyone on earth) …

Since my daughter started the high school with all A’s, is she not destined to fail? If grades are “meant to show [Pearlsky’s] progress in comparison to what she had done previously” she cannot improve since she already has all A’s and her parents can only see her decline. There is no hope for improvement. With that intent, should she have not received all C’s first marking period?

The next quarter she got some Pass / Fail grades as a compromise. She passed everything. I asked the district how on earth they can pass her on ANYTHING and still be a valid educational institution. Are grades modified for a student’s (complete lack of) ability? How can anyone ever fail? What is the point?

She does not receive grades anymore. Not just no report card, but no grades. At least that is what I am told.

[added note: Understand that if my daughter graduates high school, that is, if she in fact “passes” all of her classes and gets a diploma, ALL of her support disappears until she is 21. No more therapies, school, programs, NOTHING, that is the law in this state. The school district will save tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars if they give her a diploma. To get that diploma, she must pass her classes.]

If you want to see the original email to the district Special Ed coordinator, a friend, before I lost a few nights sleep … continue reading.

This is not a complaint, nor a problem, but something that the special needs program should be aware of if not address.

My daughter brought home a report card a few months ago. This was the first time she ever did, the middle school never sent one. I found it somewhat disturbing and actually fairly useless. She received all A’s, of which I suppose I should be proud, in subjects ranging from math to social studies. As we are all aware, my daughter is severely disabled, non-verbal, for all intents and purposes non-communicative. For her to receive an A in any high school class is questionable.

I spoke to her teacher about this and she understood. She told me a few weeks ago that she was working on making the classes Pass / Fail since there had to be a report card and had to be grades. I agreed that that made more sense. Actually, none of it makes sense, how can she pass social studies let alone fail, but that would be better. She did mention that it most likely would not take effect until next year.

My daughter came home with another report card this past week. Not only has the Pass / Fail not yet been implemented, imagine my chagrin when I noticed that my daughter’s grades have declined. She received an A- in math, English, science and social studies, all subjects she received an A in last marking period. Social Studies entails going out into the community each week. I assume she is not doing this as well as during the fall.

I really don’t know what to do with this information. My daughter’s grades are slipping in several areas, but alas, she is still doing well in Community BHS and Grp Art Cpy/Cnt. She has also passed Homeroom, which I was worried about after that unexplained absence a few weeks ago.

The really messed up part? I was bothered last night that she did worse in those subjects! I don’t know how well you know her, but she cannot reliably hit a switch for yes / no. The entire concept of grading her on math or science on any level is absurd. Yet, she goes from an A to an A- and I want to tell her she is grounded. No dates for a week. She must study harder or she won’t get into med school.

Again, there is no complaint here, no action item, just an observation. I don’t know what to say other than there is something absurd about this. She gets a nonsensical grade in a nonsensical subject and it irks me. I know I want her treated as ‘normal’ / ‘typical’ as possible, but then I don’t want her graded in math. MATH!

As you know, I adore my daughter. I have never given up a shred of hope, of optimism, of love for her. I honestly believe that in there there may be the mind of a typical 15 year old, we don’t know. Most likely, I believe she can understand on the level of a four or five year old, I see glimpses of this every few days. I do know for a fact that what comes out, what she can express, can communicate, is almost nothing. My point being that these are two different measurements, and we can only measure one. She may do math in her head (heck, I need to use my fingers!), she may understand science to some degree, but we may never know. But giving her an A? And then an A-? Huh?

I don’t mean to be difficult or give you or the district any grief. My daughter has been somewhat of the pioneer with the district ever since the special needs program came back from the [nearby town] Collaborative years ago and it is always an adjustment when she takes a step forward. I offer this email just to offer an insight from this side … you have always been extremely supportive and I don’t know how to express the appreciation for that.


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