The last week before a break feels refreshingly festive, even at the secondary level. Despite the drudgery of exams, there’s still a buzzing excitement in the air as the last day approaches. Trips, parties, naps, treats—they’re all within reach.
And then … the parade of students begging for a grade change at the last minute.
Now, I think I speak for most teachers when I say we’re willing to forgive a lot. The past couple of years have been really tough on all of us. We understand if you had a few rough weeks back in October (didn’t we all?). We empathize with the feeling of overwhelm when you realize work is piling up. Teachers don’t expect perfection: We just expect you to try.
Which is why it can feel like our generosity gets taken advantage of with requests like these shared by Reddit user @Ariesjawn:
A student failed my unit test. She got a 0%. I let her have a retake. She just finished it on Friday. Fast forward to today, I saw she emailed me:ADVERTISEMENT
Her: “I completed the test retake and thought you would update my grade once I finished. When can I expect my grade to be updated?”
I went into the system to check what she got on the test, expecting a real improvement… she got a 27%. The system gives them their score immediately after submitting.
The audacity to email me this BS when we already have a 50% minimum score policy. She must be trolling me.@Ariesjawn
Other teachers responded relaying their own versions of the same conversation:
But I need to be eligible to play today!
“Kid today: I need to be eligible to play today!
Kid: What can I do?
Me: Cheer on your team from the sidelines.
She was mad. I’m the reason she has a 30% three days before the end of the semester.” —(deleted)
When your average is a 4
“A kid today asked me what he can do to pass the course (semester course, grades closed on the 8th for him). His current average is a 4.” —janesearljones
You’re killing me, Destinee
“I got a Google Classroom notification at 11:01pm on a Friday: ‘Destinee K. submitted Bill of Rights intro 198 days late.’
“I got an email at 11:04 p.m. from Destinee: ‘Why does this assignment still have a 0??'” —SheilaGirlface
Please grade ASAP
“I had one student who, every single time she submitted late work—even for the major essay she turned in 10 weeks late—immediately sent me a message saying she’d turned in the assignment and then, ‘Please grade ASAP.’
I had a really visceral reaction to it every time lol.” —alaswhatever
“My favorite is it takes 3 weeks to turn something in; finally turns it in. 28 minutes later …
‘Hey can you grade this asap my mom wants the grade now.'” —PCrawDiddy
Negative, Ghost Rider
“Friday, a kid answered 1/57 questions correct on his Geometry midterm. He came to me an hour later and told me he couldn’t stay awake and slept through … could he retake it during lunch? Um, noooo, not giving up my lunch. I tell him he can have 1.25 hours after school. I call dad to tell him what happened. Dad explains he’s not making excuses for him but they were all up early because his sister went into labor and it wasn’t his fault, so he appreciates me giving him a retake.
“Bell rings at end of the day. Ten minutes pass. Nobody shows. I walk downstairs to the office and there he is, hanging out with friends yucking it up. He says he was just coming to see me. ‘Where have you been for the past 10 minutes?’ He was waiting to see if it was okay with his dad to stay after. He takes the test, now only with an hour left. It’s online so I’m watching his screen through Aristotle (Go Guardian knock-off). Twice he checks his grades in other classes. And with only 15 minutes left, he asks if he can go check if another teacher is still on campus. Seriously?
“Dad then sends me an email at 7 p.m. Friday night saying that he’s not making excuses for his kid (again) but he didn’t get to complete the exam. Could I give him some extra credit to complete over break to salvage his grade? That would be a negative, Ghost Rider!” —ExpensiveGrocery8351
Level 9,000 enabling
“I got a kid cheating. He denied it up and down despite me watching him do it and him putting the same meaningless doodle on his test as the kid that he copied off of. Got an 80%. I was ready to mark it down as a zero (the only time we are allowed to mark tests as zero in the grade book) and call his parents but admin stepped in.
“‘His parents are getting divorced, we don’t need to add this stress to their life. Could you just let him retake it?’
“Fine. I’m not heartless. We all deserve second chances, though I was very concerned he was still refusing to admit and accept responsibility for his blatant cheating.
“Me: ‘If you retake the test, I will not fail you and I’ll just give you whatever grade you get, please study.’
“Retakes test, gets 30%, I mark it down as 50% per school policy.
“Him: ‘You said that if I retook it, you wouldn’t fail me!’
“Me: ‘And pass! You still have to actually pass the test! Just be glad it’s not a zero!'” —studioline
You literally just have to try
“Exactly. I will always work with a kid if they are trying. Retakes, study help, test corrections, whatever it takes. If they are genuinely working, I will reward that effort.
“However, a kid that doesn’t do sh**? Sorry. Good life lesson. Zero effort = zero reward.” —tankerwags
Why are these conversations even happening? These two sum it up pretty well:
“This is because students believe now that if they just do the work, they will get a good grade. They don’t think the work has to be correct or they have to actually try harder than they are. This comes from being able to do nothing all year and just go to the next grade without any repercussions. It’s creating a force of students who will be destroyed when they hit the workforce.” —Wonderbeastlett
“The unfortunate thing is we’re teaching kids from elementary school on up that just trying is enough. And no, COVID isn’t the reason for this, though it certainly made it worse. This problem existed well before COVID and the justification seems to be focused on student self-image and the all-so-important graduation success rate.” —Environmental_Cod656
Don’t worry—if you didn’t have a student approach you this week requesting you change their average of 4 to a passing grade of 70, don’t worry. There’s always next semester!