Grading: Is "C" the new "F"?


     It's one of those realizations that sort of creeps up on you.  I didn't discover it in a flash of understanding or read it online somewhere.  I simply realized one day that to have a student earn a grade of "C" in a subject is as concerning to parent/teacher/student as a grade of "D" or "F" used to be.
     As a teacher, having students master, internalize, and be able to apply content is my goal. Regardless of benchmark or annual state assessment results, I want my kids to feel comfortable with how well they learn curriculum requirements, and be fairly happy while they're doing it. :)
     Of course, grades (Oops, did I say grades?  I meant to say assessment results) are supposed to tell the tale.  While teachers know that is not always the case, we do increasingly have to depend on data, data, data as the catalyst for what we do in the classroom.
     Have grades always been important?  Sure - I dare say that all parents, students, and teachers are happier when grades show mastery of subject materials.  Who doesn't want an "A"?
     My question is this: When did parents begin to cry during conferences when they find their child is on grade level, works hard, understands the majority of the material, and earned a "C" in a subject?  When did we start writing PEPs (Personalized Educational Plan) and action plans for performance that is average?  When did parents start wanting me to refer their child for special services because a "C" is "not acceptable"?  In other words, when did "C" begin to be read as "failure"?
     Is it just me or are other teachers dealing with this?  Is it new or has it been around for awhile?
     I'd love to hear your comments or insights.  Please drop me a line!
Pat McFadyen
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