Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Thoughts and Predictions on Grading Parents

Florida State Representative, Kelli Stargel filed a bill last week that would require elementary school teachers (grades K-3) to assess parents on the quality of their involvement in their children's education. They would be scored on how they respond to items such as how well their children complete their homework, their children's attendance and whether they attend or respond to requests for meetings.

Parents will also be graded on children's physical preparation for school including a good night's sleep and appropriate meals. These grades would appear on the children's report card.

Certainly nobody can argue the facts that strong, appropriate parental involvement, good attendance, a good night's sleep and healthy eating all positively impact children's educational well-being. However, the idea of teachers grading the parents is a waste of teachers' time and antagonistic, not to mention bizarre!

We've seen less strange bills pass though, and if this bill should actually pass, I can only imagine what would occur. Keeping in mind that teachers are typically not allowed to make too many decisions on their own anymore, the following will most likely be necessary:

  • Tedious scoring guides, rubrics and professional development to understand them will be required of teachers in order to be properly prepared to assess parents. After all, who are teachers to know what proper attendance of students actually looks like? Why would teachers actually know if parents are responding to communication? Proper professional development in these areas would be crucial. On a positive note, more jobs would be created as there will be a need for a special department for this at the state and district levels.
  • There will certainly need to be some "warning" system such as a progress report to let parents know they are in "danger" of receiving a low score. Not sure who will need to sign to be sure it was received, perhaps the grandparents. 
  • At some point, the state will tie the parental scores into school grades and so there will need to be some system of intervention and accountability in order to be sure that no parent is left behind.
  • NPLB will ensure that every parent's individual goals are tied to each student's individual goals, thus creating measurable objectives to be assessed before any grade can be administered. Again, more jobs created as programming for state departments of assessment and accountability will need to now include data systems for NPLB.
  • Since there must be some differentiation, teachers of K-3 will be free to offer a limited series of credits and demerits to parents based on behaviors, for example:
    • +5 points = parent responds to emails and phone calls from teachers within 24 hours.
    • -1 point = for every day parent does not respond to email and phone from teacher.
    • -10 points = parent blocks school number on cellphone.
    • +5 points = parents assists child with homework.
    • -5 points = parent does homework for child.
    • -10 points = parent does homework for child AND uses own handwriting.
    • +5 points = parent sends in notes to teacher if student is experiencing difficulty with a subject and thinks teacher may be unaware.
    • -5 points = parent send in note to teacher if student is experiencing difficulty with a subject and accuses the teacher of not teaching it.
    • -10 points = same parents simply calls the principal without discussing with teacher first.
    • +5 points = parent offers to help out at school or in some way from home.
    • -10 points = parent offers to help out at school, comes in, then reports back to other parents all of her "observations" in class; including details of other students' behaviors.
    • +5 points = parent makes sure student has all necessary supplies or reaches out to teacher to request assistance.
    • -5 points = parent allows students to do without necessary supplies with no communication to teacher.
    • +5 points= parent shows up for scheduled conference
    • -2 points=parent shows up for scheduled conference late leaving only a few minutes to chat
    • -10 points= parent shows up unannounced for conference and is visibly upset when told teacher is not available.
    • +5 points = parent respectfully asks teacher if moving their child's seat might be beneficial if they feel they are being distracted by other students.
    • -5 points = for each additional time parent requests seat change for same reason.
    • +10 points = parent finally admits own child is also distracting others and seat placement is not the issue.

These are just a few as I'm sure when committees begin forming there will be many more suggestions floating around. I'm "sure" this bill will make education a whole lot better.

What are your thoughts? Good idea or no?

This post contains partial satire. Thank you to Paula White for the reminder to include this bit of important information in my post.


Sue Downing said...

Apparently Representative Stargel wants a career change because promoting this bill will certainly result in one. She also must be unaware of the damage done to children by helicopter parents. My parents raised six kids in the 60s and 70s. Their jobs were to love us and provide for us financially. Our job was to go to school. We went to bed at bedtime, got our own breakfasts, and walked a mile to and from school. We learned to be responsible. If I had a K-3 child, I would not check to see if he was doing his homework. I would be at the school asking why children that young had homework.

Deon said...

Wow! I wonder what other amazing educational advancements US bureaucrats will come up with?

As if teachers need more work to do, and more reporting! If this were to pass, it would want to come with a damned big pay rise!

Lorna Costantini said...

It is worth noting the number in the poll responses posted in the Sentinel's survey indicates the majority are in favour.

There are some very unenlightened people who think that grading parents is a good thing. Let change those stats to increase option #4 - too many unanswered questions.

Heather said...

I think this bill is less about creating a new assessment system and more about bringing attention to the fact that teachers cannot control everything and shouldn't be blamed for everything. Right now in Florida, we have a governor and congress that are eagerly looking for the easy fix. Merit pay based on one test, a test that has recieved a lot of critisism in the past and is changing in ways that won't help kids (only one scorer on the writing test, using public domain text instead of modern or YA literature to assess reading). They want to increase the voucher system to include all kids not just the ones at failing schools, but even the ones at high performing schools. Charter school (even thought we've had two in this area alone that have had to be investigated for mismanagement) are being pushed all because they say teachers in our schools are failing our kids. It's all about how bad our teachers are. At least one politition is making the point that education is a far more complex issue that the politions want to believe...or at least want us to believe.

Mr Dunk said...

Good grief!!!This sounds so outrageous that I can't help but believe that it will be implemented at all K-12 levels. Good grief! ! !

Serge Puchinsky said...

I agree that this is completely outrageous, but it is getting the conversation going about some real problems that every is too afraid to address - that sometimes parents are to blame for their child's problems. I teach in New Jersey where the governor simply hates teachers. There are radio shows ranting about how easy we have it, that we have jobs for life, and make too much money. All of New Jersey's education problems seem to be being dumped onto the laps of the teachers here - the conversation is always about teachers. While I completely agree that grading parents would be an insane process (btw you forgot -10 for parents doing child's homework incorrectly) - at least someone seems to be saying to the parents "Wake up and get involved in your kid's life!"

I for one have had several parents who'd I'd love to fail.

Daniel said...

Let's hope that this bill will provide the government with the opportunity to standardize parents in the same manner which it has been trying so hard to standardize teachers and students.

Donna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TonyParkin said...

The sheer impracticality of this idea beggars belief. An absolutely guaranteed move to create greater mistrust and misunderstanding between teacher and parent it would be harder to conceive! Just hoping no UK politicians pick up on it!

Would love to see the real criteria proposed for measurement of parental engagement - though suspect they wouldn't be as accurate or even as practicable as Lee's! :)

Hoping for all of you it withers on the vine...

Kyle said...

As I read this I kept anticipating the punchline, and it never came. If grading parents is such a ridiculous idea, why are we grading the kids on a similar system?

Grades do not improve student learning - the only deep learning occurs through intrinsic motivation.

Grading parents is obviously a bad idea - we don't want to rank or sort them, we don't want to intimidate them. Yet that's wat we do to kids every day, all day. Read by @mrwejr or by @joe_bower for more thoughts on this.

Kyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicole Wilson said...

I agree that the idea is bizarre. Parental involvement is important in the educational success of students, but who are we to tell parents what should and should not be done at home. If I had children I would not want their teachers grading me on my parenting skills, and as a future teacher, I would not want to have to grade my students’ parents. I’m sure that Representative Stargel’s intentions are good, but there are better ways to involve parents than with a grading system.

Michelle said...

I hope this is a case of opening up conversation about the factors leading to a child's success in school, as some of your other commenters noted.

In fact, I think that schools, communities, teachers, and parents need to open up more with each other to become partners with common goals. If this bill is 'for real,' then it would only create animosity and a them vs us mentality.

Ryan Armitage said...

I have had my conferences where the parents already thought that they were being graded, not a good experience. Could it hurt to give some parents a rubric on what there students need from home? So many of my students' parents could use this.

IMC Guy said...

+25 points for parents who remove their low performing children from your school, hence improving the overall test score average for the building.

+25 points for parents who remove their behavior problems from your school.

Okay, yes, serious sarcasm there.

Great thoughts on this Lee. I think a lot of teachers would actually like the idea of giving a grade and most could probably do it accurately after the first month o the school year. However, you bring up a lot of very valid concerns. It would certainly be interesting to see the correlation between parent grades and student achievement. I'd be amazed if this bill was actually passed.

Ashley Cousins said...

My name is Ashley Cousins I am in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama ( My personal blog that I have for my class is at I will be required to comment on your blog twice. Once now and once in 2 weeks. I will then post a blog summarizing what you posted about both times I commented on your blog.

I personally think it isn't anyone's place to "grade" parents on how they get involved with their children's education. Of course in a perfect world every parent would be involved, but unfortunately we do not live in such world. As teachers we are going to or already have enough responsibility with keeping up with the student's behavior. How are we supposed to be expected to now worry about how that child's parent is behaving? You mentioned that this would create more jobs, would you think that this would include more help in the classroom if this was truly expected of teachers?

Ashley Cousins

Lee Kolbert said...

Hi Ashley,
I did mention that this would create more jobs, but please keep in mind that most of my post was satire. It actually might create more jobs if this thing gets out of control, but rest assured it would never trickle down to the classroom to the point where teachers would get the extra help they deserved. Not to sound bitter, but it a known fact that so much is thrown at teachers with less and less resources (time and manpower) to get the job done.

As you can tell from my post, I think the idea is absurd and will most likely not pass. Having said that, I do think one positive thing will come out of it. As Michelle noted in her comment, it will open the discussion to the fact that parents must start to bear some responsibility in their children's progress.

Thanks for your comment and best of luck. I will surely check out your blog.

mastermarks said...

100+ points: Parent volunteers as teacher's aid and is responsible for their child's education in a meaningful and responsible way.

Ashley Welch said...

My name is Ashley Welch and I have been assigned to your blog post for an assignment. Maybe, because I don't have children of my own, I kinda like this bill. I see where this bill could be nothing but a hassel and add more stress to the teachers, students and parents. I just think that some parents should be graded on how their students are doing in schools. I have witnessed a few times situations where the students performance in school stemmed from the parents lack of concern. I really enjoyed reading your post and will be looking forward to reading the next one!