Bad grades. Bad grades. Whatchya gonna do? Whatchya gonna do when they come for you?… you get the drift.

Apologies for planting that theme song in your heads for the day. In all seriousness. I use the term “bad” to kick off our post today; however, what I REALLY mean is when grades received are NOT AS EXPECTED or DO NOT MATCH THE GOAL SET BY THE STUDENT.

This is the time of year when progress reports come out, enough grades are posted to give us an idea of how the year is progressing, conferences are around the corner AND the end of some 1st quarters are near.

My initial piece of advice is DO NOT CHECK GRADES. I repeat: DO NOT CHECK GRADES.

“What?” You might ask. “But you are the queen insisting on of self awareness, assessment and regulation, Lisa!”
Yes. Yes. I am. HOWEVER, that said, one of the major pitfalls I see when working with individuals is that even when (and if) they DO check their grades, that is ALL they do.

This is where things go wrong. Typically, when students skim through their grades and see either great grades or the opposite, they are led to believe either that they are doing fantastically or are not smart enough or good at that class.  Often, things are not always as they appear.

What actually needs to happen is an ANALYSIS of grades. A grade may appear superb, when really there is only one 5 point quiz or a few HW assignments posted or entered. This gives no indication as to how the student is truly performing on all assessed tasks and areas in the course. On the contrary, if a student sees a D or and F, they often assume they have failed everything. In reality, this grade could be present for a multitude of reasons… perhaps an assignment hasn’t been entered, but the placeholder grade is a “0” until the teacher enters it. Perhaps there is make up work to be turned in. It is possible that the student did fabulously on all of the work, but failed a quiz… or the reverse?

“So, what CAN we DO?”

This is where I come in. Throughout the past 13 years of working with hundreds of students and families, I have observed that students find the most success when they look at the underlying tasks and assignments (the specific composition of the grade).  THEN, as they look for patterns, trends, explanations, etc., they can use this information to brainstorm solutions and make note of items to follow up or seek teacher guidance with. Once they have found new and successful strategies, these can used to create specific class and study plans for each and every class (more on this process in a future blog).

*** Download our GRADE ANALYSIS tool here – be sure to check out the STUDENT SAMPLE for direction and guidance.