Photo by Heather Middleton
By Johnny Jackson
How young is too young to apply rigorous standards to student academic achievement, and attach those standards to public recognition?
A local grandparent is questioning a private, Christian school's policy that applies such standards for recognition as early as the first-grade.
Quen Howard, the grandmother of a second-grader at Community Christian School (CCS), in Stockbridge, said she objects to the stringent criteria used on students at too early an age.
Howard explained, in a broken voice, the sadness she felt through her grandchild's agony in not making CCS' Spring Honor Roll. For that reason, she said, she disagrees with the private school's policy on recognizing students' academic achievement.
"I do understand there are rules and regulations, but do we have to be so technical when it comes to children working very hard?" Howard asked. "What are we teaching our children, or better still, what examples are [we] setting?"
Howard said her position is based on the CCS' spring recognition ceremony. She said her granddaughter was not acknowledged for making all A's and B's on her semester report card. "I sat in the audience to witness my granddaughter look very sad with the expectation of receiving a certificate [only] for perfect attendance," Howard explained. "My granddaughter made all A's and B's on her report card, no C's ... nowhere on the report card."
Customarily, schools recognize students who make all A's and B's on their report cards as A/B-Honor Roll students, and students who make all A's on their report cards are recognized as A-Honor Roll students.
CCS Headmaster Frederick Banke said his school does not abide by the traditional A/B-Honor Roll. "Our school sets a higher standard for this award," said Banke, acknowledging CCS's Honor Roll Policy as outlined each year in its student-parent handbook.
Banke said students earning A's and no more than two B's during the semester are eligible for the CCS Honor Roll. "CCS recognizes and appreciates the efforts of all our students," he added. "While being awarded an Honor Roll certificate is an accomplishment, we strive to applaud all of our students on their achievements throughout the entire school year."
The headmaster said the school's Honor Roll Policy undergoes a year-to-year scrutiny based upon the collective academic performance of its students during the previous year. "Parents are notified of, and agree to read, and abide by these polices, each year," he added. "These school policies and standards are re-evaluated annually to ensure they continue to work for CCS families."
Without the more rigorous standards for recognizing academic achievement, as much as 90 percent of the student body would be recognized, according to Banke. He said that, even with the school's more stringent Honor Roll, greater than 60 percent of CCS's first- through fifth-graders were recognized this past spring.
Banke said the school's strict Honor Roll Policy has helped to increase students' drive to achieve more, and reach for higher marks academically. He said the school plans to continue its 2010-11 policy on academic recognition into the 2011-12 school year.
The grandmother said she was grieved by her grandchild's disappointed reaction to not making CCS's Honor Roll. Her granddaughter made the same number of B's as she did A's on her second semester report card, but did not meet the two-B minimum requirement to be eligible for the award.
"The question a second grader ask[ed]: 'Was I not a good student, when I work so very, very hard to come up short?'" said Howard, quoting her granddaughter. "'Grandma where did I go wrong? Am I not smart enough ... to be honored?'"
"How do we not make Honor Roll?" she continued. "Again, exactly what are we saying to our future?"