Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wherein I report on the report card...

For measuring school performance, I have no issue with report cards. But for Seminary, I am not a big fan of report cards. Which is a problem because, like them or not, part of my job as an instructor is sending them out quarterly.

So yesterday, I was stuck I filling out what is likely my last set of Seminary report cards. I struggle to resolve my own bias against the practice while still being compliant with CES regulations.

I don’t mind recording their attendance percentage. 80% attendance warrants credit, anything below doesn’t. This is an easy concrete marker to understand and achieve if they’d like to earn a Seminary diploma after four years.

But grades? For early morning Seminary? Having taught early morning and once (long ago) attended released time as a high school student myself, the two are very different. Our class doesn’t involve tests or homework, per se. I do give take home assignments but it’s things like considering what a gospel principle has to do with them or maybe giving them a challenge to test one of God’s promises. But, not exactly course work I’d feel comfortable grading them on.
I’m happy to give any student an “A” that comes regularly and participates in my lame games or class discussions. My issue is more about not wanting to give out anything lower than a “B” because it doesn’t seem like a low grade in Seminary is going to motivate anyone to want to come to class more often.

I always mail report cards home with an attached customized letter so that I can acknowledge specific things I’ve noticed about their progress or interest or improvement during the year. The last thing I would ever want to do is make anyone feel uninclined to return because of a lousy grade.

Maybe I’m too easy and should expect more, but teenagers, like all of us, should find church as a welcoming place. At least, that is my opinion, for what it’s worth (hey, maybe it’s worth an “A” grade!).