By Brianna Zeiberg ’19
Students spend hours and hours every night doing their homework, preparing for tests and completing projects. Some students speculate that their assignments are not being given proper attention by their teachers, resulting in unfair grades. I have been approached numerous times by peers who complain about unfair grades or teachers who they feel aren’t fully reading their assignments. But what I rarely hear of is anyone doing something about it. Do they tell their parents? Are they confused about who they should approach for help?
I sat down with Principal James D’Amico to discuss the matter and to see what can be done if students feel their teachers are not doing their jobs.
D’Amico advises students to confront the teacher if they are seeking a solution or an explanation regarding a grade they received. “Whenever there is a situation where a student disagrees or has a question about a grade or wants to talk through something, they should always go see their teacher,” D’Amico said. “That’s always the first step because sometimes there’s an explanation that maybe the student didn’t think of from the teachers perspective and vise versa.”
Despite the multiple complaints I receive from my friends regarding unfair grades, D’Amico said students have not brought the issue to his attention. He also emphasized that, “It’s not just important in terms of a grade, but it’s also important in terms of just being a high school student. Part of that is learning how to advocate for yourself.”
Some students say that they have tried to approach their teachers. “My teacher often says ‘I don’t want to argue with you,’ or points out a minor fault that is not big enough to give me a significantly lower grade,” an anonymous source said after confronting her teacher numerous times.
D’Amico raised the problem if students are misinterpreting what feedback their teachers are giving them. “One of the things that I found as a teacher here, and occasionally when I was a department chair, sometimes there’s questions [about grades] and the teacher may give an answer that the student feels is abrupt or too short. But in class is not a time to talk about your work,” D’Amico said.
If a student really is still noticing a continuous problem after confronting their teacher, the next step would be to talk to the department chair for that subject. D’Amico explained that the department chairs work directly with the teachers and your feedback on the teacher.
“My first priority is the students,” D’Amico said. “But, it’s to make sure we are communicating effectively.”