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Teachers who Never Give "A"s

MomSixMomSix 46 replies18 threads Junior Member
Have a D, HS 2016, who is taking all honors classes and two "pre - AP" thematic courses English and Social Studies, She took them the first section of them last year and is now in the second year. They are worth a smidgen more in the weighting than an Honors course, and I felt they were the right choice for her at the time since they were the most challenging. Our suburban high school is not particularly strong academically and is trying to improve its offerings. So, the problem is, the teachers in these two classes do NOT give As of any sort, as final grades. They refuse to: haven't since the courses began a few years ago, with the belief that these are harder courses and a B is the equivalent of an A. My daughter will take the AP history exam this year. But, she now will have four Bs as final grades, which will bring her rank in class down, and she was potentially near the top. I don't think students should be given easy As. But teachers that only give a B or B+ as the highest grade? It's too late, since she really likes the classes and is almost done, but I'm just venting, I guess.
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Replies to: Teachers who Never Give "A"s

  • Niquii77Niquii77 9994 replies110 threads Senior Member
    I understand the frustration. You can't really tell a teacher they must give some of their students As. (Or can you...?) While I haven't experienced this in high school, I've experienced this is college. It can really suck to be honest.

    My calculus teacher never gave As. He felt that calculus should come naturally to the student and if you were truly meant to become an engineer you would tough through the material yourself. No help. No hand holding. No guidance. That class didn't go very well.

    My english teacher swore they didn't give out As if they didn't see an over-the-top effort coming from the student. I went through the entire semester thinking I had a B. (The teacher didn't calculate grade until after all assignments were turned in after the semester was over). Come final grades I look and see I received an A- for that class. I consider that a great feat!
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  • mathmommathmom 33189 replies161 threads Senior Member
    My son took a class with a college prof who never gives A's. He did know that going in - but it does kind of suck. I think I might ask someone in the administration - go in and saying you are in no way complaining about your daughter's grade, but that you had heard this rumour and wondered if there was any truth in it. If there is perhaps at the very least the GC could address the issue in their recommendation.
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  • kiddiekiddie 3848 replies239 threads Senior Member
    I think every teacher should give their students (in college or HS) a syllabus with their grading rubric. The rubric must give options for all grades including what it would take to get an A. If the syllabus says you can't get an A at all I would take that up with the teacher/administration. Now what they may require for that A may be unrealistic to do but at least then all the facts are known up front.
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  • snarlatronsnarlatron 1595 replies45 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2014
    That an instructor never gives an A is often a myth. Unless this is an announced policy, or unless you have stolen the grade books, how could this be known? Students are not always honest with their peers in sharing their grades and many keep mum.
    edited February 2014
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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama 84346 replies1049 threads Forum Champion
    "They refuse to: haven't since the courses began a few years ago, with the belief that these are harder courses and a B is the equivalent of an A. "


    What morons. I wouldn't trust people like that to teach my children....and I'd tell them that to their faces.

    Uh....apply that crazy logic to anything else. X job pays Y dollars. Z job is harder therefore its lower salary with a little bonus is equivalent to Y dollars. No, it's not, because so much is based on base salary.

    Yes, tell them that. Tell them that teaching those classes is harder, so they should get a reduced salary with a little bonus.
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  • tk21769tk21769 10710 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Even the strictest graders need some justification for deducting points on tests and papers. Go over your kid's graded work. Was it all completed and turned in on time, free of all but trivial spelling/grammar/punctuation errors, consistently well-organized, well-reasoned, on-topic, and occasionally insightful? If so, maybe you have a case. Furthermore, if the students in your classes are getting Bs, yet turn out to get very high standardized test scores including on the related AP tests, then someone should present that as evidence to those teachers that they do need to relax a little.

    However, if your school is "not particularly strong academically", and those courses are being taught to the standards of more competitive high schools, then it may be the students who need to up their game, not the teachers who need to lighten up. You cannot have it both ways. You can't make your school stronger academically yet continue to have Lake Wobegon grading standards.

    Grades aside, are the courses you're describing good courses? Are the teachers good teachers? Is your child learning from them and getting good preparation for college? If so, you're lucky ... as long as the teachers are being fair as well as strict in their grading.
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  • SlackerMomMDSlackerMomMD 3085 replies9 threads Senior Member
    I'm with tk21769, if the school isn't particularly academic then it may be that students are not meeting the standards set by the teachers for an A. Some teachers are very tough. Check the syllabus or talk to the teacher. Ask them about their grading rubric. What constitutes an A? B? C? If they flat-out say "I never give out As" then you have a case to take to the administration. You may want to ask the teachers, what happens if the student gets a 5 on the AP exam? Will they change the final grade to an A? What are the AP History scores earned by these students?

    To be honest, it is much better to have a tough marking teacher who has set high standards in high school than just get the A.
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7766 replies7 threads Senior Member
    My experience at our HS is that many kids are accustomed to getting A's and then are very surprised when they start getting B's in harder classes without putting in the additional work that is necessary. Some teachers set extremely high standards and expect the students to rise to the challenge for the A. We have not had a problem with teachers refusing to give A's in our school. MomSix if you have reason to believe that some teachers refuse to give A's as a final grade then I would make an appointment ( or have your child do it) and speak to the teacher. You need a rubric for which grading is based upon and you need the teacher to come out and say that he/she does not ever give A's in the class. I would flat out ask and see what the answer is because if it is true, that is not acceptable.
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  • ConsolationConsolation 22898 replies184 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2014
    If these courses are the "highest" track in history and English at your HS, then presumably the best students are taking them, so they would all take a similar hit to their GPAs. I think that colleges would generally prefer to see a B+ on the transcript and a 5 on the AP exam than an A in the class and a 2 on the exam, which all too often happens.

    Literally having a policy that an A will never be given is obviously silly. Having high standards--preferably clear ones--for an A is perfectly reasonable. It is great that your D enjoys these more challenging courses. That would indicate that they are right for her.
    edited February 2014
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  • PoemePoeme 1329 replies0 threads Senior Member
    I went to a highly competitive public school that practiced relative grade inflation to a lot of the schools I hear about. This was a school that sent well over 30 students to top schools every year, so the stinginess with grades had nothing to do with the quality of students.
    In AP english my junior year, my teacher gave As to four students in his two classes, probably like 50 students combined. One teacher gave out one A in his class. It felt stupid at the time because we all thought that colleges would see us negatively for having lower GPAs. No one in my grade of over 1,000 kids had a 4.0 and I was in the top 5% of the class with ~3.6 unweighted. The one good thing about this though was that it gave me a thick skin for college and has allowed me to be very successful.
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  • cobratcobrat 12207 replies78 threads Senior Member
    Was it all completed and turned in on time, free of all but trivial spelling/grammar/punctuation errors, consistently well-organized, well-reasoned, on-topic, and occasionally insightful? If so, maybe you have a case.

    Not with my HS teachers and some college Profs. Being consistently well-organized, well-reasoned, on-topic, and occasionally insightful meant you've earned a B/B+. An A required some original profound synthesis and analysis beyond all that from what I've seen.

    Spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, however trivial, was sufficient grounds for many HS teachers and some college Profs to deduct points. When some college classmates complained about this, a Prof retorted that many workplaces and grad schools/academia are unlikely to look upon such errors kindly once they were out of college.

    A good comment considering I've had employers who made it a point to try screening out applicants who "lacked such attention to basic detail" and who didn't hesitate to fire entry-level colleagues after a few months or sometimes, even weeks for exhibiting those errors in written professional correspondence. And with spell/grammar checks in Office applications software, many employers feel there's even less excuse for such errors compared with pre-computer days.
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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama 84346 replies1049 threads Forum Champion
    "I think that colleges would generally prefer to see a B+ on the transcript and a 5 on the AP exam than an A in the class and a 2 on the exam, which all too often happens."


    While logically that may be true, that depends on the Adcoms actually looking at the grade and then looking at the AP score. That's not likely especially since some colleges won't even receive AP scores til after decisions are made.

    Also, a 5 on an AP exam with a B in the class, could suggest a smart kid who doesn't do homework.

    My older son had a teacher take over mid-year for a fabulous teacher. This new teacher announced on her first day, "I don't give A's, only God can do perfect work." Uh....what an idiot. I'm sure she didn't feel that way when she was getting her PhD (which she had) where A's are expected. Anyway, parents immediately complained and she was told that she had to give As...and even A+'s. lol
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  • apprenticeprofapprenticeprof 961 replies3 threads Member
    Once again, cobrat, your experiences are at odds with anything I've ever experienced or heard of. Yes, doing adequate but unremarkable work is not always enough for an "A," and having a substantially grammar/punctuation/spelling error free paper is expected, but the idea that there are a meaningful number of teachers and professors lowering students' grades for a few typos or incorrect use of a semi-colon is absurd - as is the contention that people are routinely being fired for similar flaws (which may or may not even be noticed, and would be unlikely to make it back to the boss/supervisor in most cases unless he is in the habit of reading every single employee correspondence).

    In any case, that isn't particularly relevant to the issue of whether or not a teacher can or should make it a matter of POLICY to never give As. On that matter, I agree that the first thing to do is verify whether or not that is even accurate. A teacher not giving an As (if this is even true) is one thing, and might be fair for the reasons others have mentioned. A teacher telling a class "nothing you do could possibly earn you an "A" is patently unfair, and should be taken up with administrators.
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  • Hannahbanana69Hannahbanana69 626 replies55 threads Member
    My mother talks a lot about her professor one year who had a policy of giving exactly one A per class per semester to the student with the highest grades and best work ethic. (Unfortunately for her, she didn't get it.)
    Honestly, though, I've never understood teachers who say that this is a high level course so a B is like an A in a different class. Classes are graded on a scale of A (the best) to F (the worst), no? Which should logically mean that in a class in which the teacher's goals for his/her students are attainable, an A should be possible no matter how hard the coursework, correct? If the teacher has unrealistic goals, that's a problem; if the teacher has realistic goals and the students are not reaching them then that's a different problem. But if a student is fulfilling or even exceeding the requirements of a class, an A should be possible, no matter how hard the coursework- in fact, perhaps it is even more deserved, considering the high level and difficulty of the class.
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  • Data10Data10 3347 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2014
    I expect that most cases of teachers who "never give A's" is more an issue of being harsh graders that only rarely give A's. In many HS classes A has become by far the most common grade, sort of like a representation of satisfactory work. A minority of teachers/professors/schools have a very different grading policy where A is reserved for exceptional students, going above and beyond just satisfactory understanding of the material. If a student is used to classes where most students get A's, then a class where under 10% get A's can be a difficult transition.

    In another thread, I linked to the grade distribution database at UIB. The grades at UIB do show this type of radical differences between different professors. For example, there was one English class last spring where none of the 15 members of the class got an A. The professor had another section of the class where he gave an A- or better to 3 out of 16, so the overall rate between both sections was a little under 10% That same semester, a different professor taught the same English class. She gave A's to 91% of the class. One professor gave A's to under 10%, and the other over 90%. No professors an any department I checked appeared to have a policy of not ever giving A's.

    Has anyone seen a syllabus, a grade history, or any kind of written statement saying the highest possible grade is a B/B+ in any class (not just the OP's class)? Or is this just word of mouth about not giving A's?
    edited February 2014
    Post edited by Data10 on
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  • sydsimsydsim 291 replies22 threads Member
    edited February 2014
    In my academic magnet high school, my freshmen English teacher informed us on the first day that he only gives out Bs or Fs, and that's exactly what he did.

    This school was the number two ranked school in the city at the time, with its top students attending top ten and Ivy League schools upon graduation. I suppose he figured that no 14 year old could be an excellent writer and if you were in this school, you shouldn't be an average writer, and if you were, then you were actually a failure.

    Now I'm sure that this post is loaded with grammatical errors, which is why I earned a B.
    edited February 2014
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  • wis75wis75 14383 replies65 threads Senior Member
    I'll bet you are not in Wisconsin. While some HS's will weight grades the flagship U uses unweighted grades. Teachers would realize the effect grades would have on college. They also look at the course rigor compared to that available in the school. Sounds like when the college process comes you need to have your guidance counselor in your corner explaining grading policies of those courses. By then she is likely to have strong AP exam scores and test scores. There are many 4.0 students who do not get into top colleges while some with lesser grades do. Always remember school is for learning and stretching one's brain, not the gpa.
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  • Niquii77Niquii77 9994 replies110 threads Senior Member
    In my academic magnet high school, my freshmen English teacher informed us on the first day that he only gives out Bs or Fs, and that's exactly what he did.
    This is funny!

    ^^ Wisconsin is not the only state that uses the student's unweighted grades. Not uncommon for a university to take the unweighted grades and scale them to what they deem fit.
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  • wis75wis75 14383 replies65 threads Senior Member
    Thought so but only know Wisconsin. I follow the UW discussion and frequently am among those explaining how unweighted grades count. I definitely disagree with those teachers who feel their course B equals an A in a regular course. A regular course, in HS or college, can offer more material, skills and be more difficult.
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  • cobratcobrat 12207 replies78 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2014
    but the idea that there are a meaningful number of teachers and professors lowering students' grades for a few typos or incorrect use of a semi-colon is absurd - as is the contention that people are routinely being fired for similar flaws (which may or may not even be noticed, and would be unlikely to make it back to the boss/supervisor in most cases unless he is in the habit of reading every single employee correspondence).

    I've had one Prof who had a separate rubric for determining point deductions for various types of spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors. His reasoning was he felt students who had 4 years of college prep HS and fulfilled the college's writing proficiency requirement should be proficient enough to proofread their papers so such errors were absent in the final draft.

    As for some former employers, they just didn't want employees who could leave a bad impression with senior executives or more importantly, large corporate clients through written communications or ad/web copy with spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes.

    And it's not a recent phenomenon, either. One former supervisor who was an engineering major in the '70s recalled his entering class being required to take much more English writing and writing intensive humanities/social science courses than previous classes because the Engineering dean received a barrage of complaints from regional employers about the poor written communication skills of their recent graduates.
    Has anyone seen a syllabus, a grade history, or any kind of written statement saying the highest possible grade is a B/B+ in any class (not just the OP's class)? Or is this just word of mouth about not giving A's?

    Most likely word of mouth. While there may be teachers/Profs who don't believe in giving As on principle, they are few and far between. Most of them are also politically astute enough to not advertise it on the syllabus or mention it themselves.

    Most of the time, it's really shorthand for the subjective "this Prof is unusually harsh in his/her grading".
    In my academic magnet high school, my freshmen English teacher informed us on the first day that he only gives out Bs or Fs, and that's exactly what he did.

    My urban public magnet had teachers notorious not only for harsh grading, but giving really odd grades. One older math teacher whom I had as a math substitute teacher was infamous for giving -√2 as a grade on problem sets, quizzes, and exams.
    edited February 2014
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