Mothering Forum banner

What Would You Do?

637 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  lauren
What Would You Do?

I need some advice about how to handle a problem at my daughter's school. (Top dollar private school I might add!)

She is in Year 12 which is the final year of high school here. The school year finishes in Dec 04 so she is half way through.

She has always been an A or B student, studies hard (she doesn't go out or play up) and was selected for advanced mathmatics in primary and high school.

Here's the kicker - she and most of her class mates (also advanced students) got a D in last week's end of semester examination (some got a C).

I was up at the school earlier in the year complaining that the maths teacher was absent from class too often (weeks at a time) and the "fill in" gym or art teachers were not progressing the students through the curriculum resulting in her class getting way behind. She suffered in her last examinations (a C) directly, I believe, as a result of this.

I engaged a tutor for her to get her caught up but now I've got a D to deal with.

Because (if) the rest of the class have the same result I just can't reconcile myself to the fact that the work is too hard for her. She says the class hadn't covered most of the work in the exam which I tend to believe.

She also says that the teacher doesn't "teach". He writes rules up on the board and says "learn those rules you need to know them" or gives out sheets and says "work on those for the lesson" without explanations or teaching.

I've made an appointment with the teacher and the head of maths demanding (nicely) to see the class results and get her moved to another teacher (difficult without changing other subjects)

What would you do if as I suspect most of them did badly. Doesn't that mean the school has failed? A class of advanced, bright students can't fail without it being the school's fault can they? Am I missing something?

The school is not going to (can't afford to) admit they stuffed up badly. How can I not let them fob me off with - your daughter and the other girls just aren't clever enough? I can't afford for her to get a D. She's blown her chance at university if that D stands. What can I ask for - resit another test?

She's in tears, unconsolable and I feel like I've got a knife in my heart. Her entire future is ruined by this result.

How would you approach this? Thanks.
See less See more
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Wow that is rough. Highschool is so stressful just with it being highschool much less crappy teachers that don't teach.

I would try to get a meeting together with other parents whose children are affected also.

Then from that approach the school for rewrites and the like.

Hope it works out!
I'd get the parents of some of the other girls behind me and march to the administrators with your list of complaints. Clearly, if it's all or most of the class, the teacher is failing to do his job for one reason or another. Given your daughter's record to date, you have plenty of ammunition. I'd go so far as to get a legal advisor lined up, but save mentinoing that as a trump card rather than going in with threats from the get-go.
I would ask a school administrator to look at the results of all the exams of her classmates. If they all got low grades, then it is obviously the teacher's fault. The administrator should meet with students and parents and see how this teacher was really teaching. If you are right, and I bet you are, then the teacher should be reprimanded to fired and the kids should be allowed to take a summer class to make up what they didn't learn. Of course this grade should be erased as well.
Well, I think that your response of questioning the teacher is maybe right- IF the whole class did indeed make low grades. I'd make sure to know that before making accusations. If the class as a whole did poorly, then you will have some solid ground to stand on.

Now, let me give you another perspective... I was really bothered by you saying that her whole future is ruined. I went to a very good private high school, and I was a B student. I felt as if there was an over-emphasis placed on grades. When I left high school, I went on to University, and had no problem making A's- in fact, I felt as if it was too easy. (that sounds braggy, but it's honest) I was so frustrated that such an emphasis had been put on GRADES in high school. The mantra was "If you don't make good grades in high school, you're going to FAIL in the real world. We're going easy on you."

This hit home again last year when I was looking at my sister's 12th grade biology book. It was at or above the level that we were using at University.

So- on the one hand, I'm very thankful for the high school education that allowed me to breeze thru classes at the University. (although I did choose a major that was hard for me) But on the other hand, I was angry that I stressed so much over school. But on the other hand, I'm still very thankful for my education.

Sorry to blather on about it- I just feel very strongly. And I tend to get incoherant when I feel strongly about something.
It's not a good combination.
See less See more
Jadegirl you are soooo right.

We have a high teen suicide rate here from year 12's not getting grades they expected and I am really worried by that.

I tried to calm her down by saying that a lower result at the end of the year won't be the end of the world and that if she doesn't get a high enough score to get into the course and university of her choice it might be fate taking her deliberately in another direction.

I tried to say that if she has to - whatever she chooses as an alternative to her preference now might in the long run turn out to be what she really should be doing.

In short to reassure her that life will go on and we can cope with any outcome.

Unfortunately she is really driven and is used to being a high achiever. She personally cannot bear getting a low mark. That's why she studies so hard and doesn't go out and party like her friends. She puts this pressure on herself and whilst as a parent I have to say I'm probably lucky that she is that motivated to do well, I have trouble getting her to lower her expectations and be content with being less than excellent.

Thanks also to the other mamas - the idea of getting other parents involved is a good one (harder to fob off a group). And yes, I absolutely will be making sure that the other girls did badly as well before I wade in too far. The head of maths was working on those figures for me.

Keep the advice coming. You ladies (and gents?) are wonderful!
See less See more
IMO the school ought to be supplying the tutor for your dd.

I went to a private school and the teacher of math just really hasnt cut out to be a teacher. He wrote a note to my parents saying if I would come to him for tutoring after hours it would help well I went many times and he was never there. I called my parents and the called the principle who in turn got me a private tutor who could tutor me in whatever I needed.

I would push for a tutor for the whole class and then a re-test.

That teacher needs to find another type of work

to you and your dd

Edited to add: Could you sit in for a few days to see how that math teacher teaches if she does at all?
See less See more
She puts this pressure on herself and whilst as a parent I have to say I'm probably lucky that she is that motivated to do well, I have trouble getting her to lower her expectations and be content with being less than excellent.
I work at a university. I see a lot of freshmen who come in, who are used to being at the top of their high school classes. It is hard for many of them to realize that they are no longer the big fish in the small pond, but it is a lesson that they need to understand. The ones who don't "get it" pretty quickly are the ones who tend to depression, drinking and sometimes drugs.

I was also bothered to hear you state that her future is ruined by this. If she really is a stellar student, surely this one grade will not preclude her from going to a university??? I'll admit that I know nothing about the Australian educational system, but perhaps you are both overreacting?

As for the test, I agree you should talk to the administration and see how the other students did. It is common in the US that if everyone bombs a test, the grades are curved. Is that possible?
See less See more
Firstly, which it sounds like you have, assure your daughter of your belief in her abilities and work with her to see if there are areas that she may need extra help.

Secondly, I would ask for a PRIVATE meeting with the with the head mistress or dean. I would discuss the issue but also point out that this is not open for debate. As you pointed out, you have paid quite alot for your child's education. You believe that a child should get the grade that they earn however in this case your daughter did not earn this grade. If your daughter had been the only one to earn this grade or one of a few, you would certainly understand. But when a class fails, it does not show the failure of the students but that of the teacher. And ask how they plan to rectify the situation. If it is not in a way that suits you, I would calmly but clearly explain that you came to her / him out of respect, but since no agreement can be made, you will have to get the other parents involved. That is when I would bring out the big guns and unite the parents. Unilike public schools, tenure does not apply (at least not here in the states).

As for your daughter's one grade affecting admissions, I would just be ready to explain it to an admissions officer. I would be honest and upfront and given her other grades it is obviously not a reflection of her general study habits. If possible I would show how she has tried to make up for the loss she has suffered from such a poor teacher i.e. tutoring on the subject, summer course.

Let us know how you make out.
See less See more
I agree with many of the others. I am also aware that I don't know enough about the educational system in Australia. I am aware in Europe that university is free IF the grades are good. I sense that it is different than the system in the U.S. How does this work in Australia? What sorts of factors are involved if the grade does not get corrected? I think people need that information to understand your comments about her future in context.
Update - Nobody at the school would see me last week. I left messages all over the school that were not returned for days and couldn't pin anyone down to meet with me.

Finally I left a message for the Head of Curriculum for the fourth time saying that I insisted on coming to speak to someone about it and how unimpressed I was by the lack of response by the school. (I began making calls last Tuesday trying to get someone to meet with me. Just when I thought I had something arranged they would refer me to someone else)

Anyway he called at 830 Friday night and confirmed that the teacher, the Head of Maths and himself would meet with me at 330 on Tuesday. So wish me luck.

The main stream university entrance system here relies on the student's end of year 12 result which is called an "OP" or "Overall Position" (in relation to all other students in the State). OP's range from 1 (the best) to about 15 or 20 (the worst).

Courses at Uni require a set OP level for entrance. Law, medicine, dentistry etc require an OP1 at the best universities. At a lesser university you might get in to those subjects with a 3 or a 4.

To get a high OP you need all A's. Any B's will drop the OP dramatically. God forbid - D's drop your OP result through the floor!!

To get admitted to your choice of course (you are not allowed to apply to study it otherwise) you must get a high OP. Realistically to stand a chance of getting your choice in a good university you need an OP of 1 to 5. Lower than that and you'll probably miss out because there are too many other students in Queensland with a better result. Unless of course what you want to study has a low entrance requirement - some Arts subjects are down around 10. But DD wants to study a high OP science based course.

So students are left to either 1. Choose a less respected university, usually in a remote location or 2. Select a course of study that is not necessarily what they want to do that allows a lower OP entrance.

I probably haven't explained this all that well but what the D means to us is that every student in Queensland that got better than a D just jumped ahead of DD in the end of year OP allocation if that D stands. Care to guess how many that might be?

Unless successful in a scholarship examination - (not many offered and very hard to get) all university students have to pay to attend. The cost depends on the reputation/quality/location of the university. The cost also depends on the difficulty of the course. (Tuition only) A Science course at the best uni here is approximately $8-10,000 a year with an Arts course at the same uni being about $3-4,000 a year. Degrees take 3-5 years to complete depending on their complexity.

Some "Private" universities and training colleges will take students with shocking OP's but make them pay through the nose big time$$$ for the priviledge.

If students have no money, university fees can be deferred until completion of the degree and employment is obtained at which time the taxation department takes a % of your wage until the debt is paid back.

Anyway I shall go along on Tuesday and see if I can prove that that result is not typical of her or the class and plead for a class retest or something.
See less See more
The Result:

The saga is finally over. I met with the Maths Teacher, the Head of Maths and the Head of Curriculum yesterday afternoon.

Yes they admit that most of the girls did badly in that test.
Yes they admit the reason was probably because they did not set the test from the text book used at the school. They used questions and problems from a text book and programme used by another private school.
Yes they admit that the questions and problems did not directly relate to what and the way the girls have been taught in class - hence the confusion.
And no there is no way that she can change to another maths class without dropping another subject and starting a new one (couldn't even consider that so close to the end of school)

But they say that this particular area of advanced maths requires a very challenging test to really test the girls problem solving, innovation and analytical skills.
They also make no apologies for setting difficult tests and admit that they expect a higher result and standard from their girls than State schools do.(DD's school turns out 75% of graduates with an OP between 1 and 10. The average in a State school is approx 10%.

All is not lost though - they went on to sort of explain what I took to mean that they "over test" the girls throughout the year and can afford to "drop off" the worst test results gained throughout the year. So because this is a one off bad result it will be dropped in the end of year calculations.

Thank you God.

Also the Head of Maths has offerred 2 free tutoring sessions a week, one with him and one with another maths teacher until DD is up to A level in preparation for the next round of testing.

There's only one term left until end of year examinations and if she doesn't go to at least some of the tutoring you will be hearing in the media about her slow painful death as inflicted by her Mother.
After the grief, hysteria and stress this has caused I want her to do her part to resolve the problem and I can't do this for her.

A good result I think.

Thanks for listening and for your support and advice. It meant the world to me.

Have a great day all - I'm going to have the best one I've had for a while.
See less See more
Wow, what a relief! Glad the problem is temporarily over. Hope your daughter attends the tutoring!
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.