School Issues Report Card without Grades after Teacher Quits

When I’m in the community or around family, people tend to ask me education questions.  I’m asked about education topics in the news or my thoughts about what is happening inside our local schools.  Earlier this week, I received an inquiry on my Facebook wall from a parent of an IPS third grader.

“I have a question about grades when the teacher leaves before the end of the school year.  My son’s report card came yesterday and there were no grades for his homeroom, only grades for specials  (I assume because his teacher didn’t turn in grades)  but he has honor roll and a 3.5 GPA.  How will this (not having a grade for his main courses) affect him or will it?”

My first response was to click the angry emotion on the post because I did not understand why this happened.  There should be someone responsible for verifying final grades was ready and entered before report cards were printed and sent home.

Later, the parent shared a copy of the report card.  I noticed not only was her child’s fourth quarter grades missing, but also the first quarter grades were missing.  Because of this, I wrongly assumed the teacher arrived after the start of the school year.  The parent then informed me the teacher was there since the beginning of the school year but left in March after the Indiana Reading Evaluation And Determination (IREAD-3) assessment.  After the first quarter, the school changed how they did report cards and this is why the first quarter grades were also missing on the final report card.  Why would a school make this change after the school year began?

To give me more perspective, the parent shared more information with me.  She attended this same elementary school as a child.  The principal that was at the school when she was in fifth grade was the same principal at the school up until two school years ago.  She heard her son’s teacher, who he also had in first grade, left for another job that was less stressful, fewer hours, and had better pay.  Although she was told that the substitute teacher replacement was great, she only had one contact with the substitute when she picked her child up from school one day.

As a parent, you have the right to contact your child’s school when you have concerns and this is what I advised her to do.  After contacting the principal about the missing grades, the principal did a mass phone call to the parents to inform them new report cards would be issued in about a week.  Knowing the teacher was absent during the fourth quarter and the school failed to send home grades when the report card was originally sent makes me wonder if there are even grades available to put on the report cards when they are mailed again.  If there are not grades, how will the school determine what grades to put on the report card?

At the end of the day, this parent is concerned about what her child learned at the end of the school year after the teacher quit.  In the research study, “How Teacher Turnover Harms Student Achievement,” researchers found, “teacher turnover has a significant and negative impact on student achievement in both math and English/language arts.”

With missing fourth quarter grades, no explanation of why the grades were missing, and no communication about her child’s progress during the fourth quarter from the substitute teacher, this parent is left guessing if the grades that will be provided later has any value and if her child will be ready for the fourth grade.  She is considering if it would it be in her child’s best interest to transfer him to Beech Grove schools.

I wonder what the school could have done differently to support the teacher so the teacher would stay at least through the end of the school year.  All we can hope is the school uses this as a learning experience, so this will not happen again or more parents might consider looking for another school to educate their children.