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Let’s Talk About Grades

Submitted by Busayo Apampa, Parent and Family Program Graduate Assistant

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects your student’s educational records. That means that in order for you to have access to their grades, they need to grant you permission. It often requires a family discussion set expectations for whether or not grades are shared with you.

We asked a student and her dad two questions:

  • How do parents set expectations for grades with their student?
  • How do students set expectations for grades with their parents?

Hannah Badiata, a junior majoring in business administration and her dad, Pastor Donald Batubenga, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, shared their thoughts with us.

Pastor Donald Batubenga

My expectations:

I do have expectations for academic success for Hannah. We’ve sent her to school to get an education and develop skills so she will be useful in society and grow to become independent by making her own living.

Grades give me a way to keep track of Hannah’s progress in school. I’m not going to lie. I have set high expectations. Grades are great indicators not only of her academic performance, but also her holistic health. They reveal Hannah’s work ethic, her emotional, intellectual and spiritual conditions.

I try to keep things in perspective by not relying absolutely on grades because every day is not the same. Internal struggles she may be facing can affect her learning and influence her grade, so understanding is required in interpreting my daughter’s grades.

My expectations of Hannah:

I would like her to honestly share everything about grades, good or bad. A good grade indicates that she is understanding, mastering what she is learning and she is thriving. A bad grade on the other hand is not always what I, as a parent raised in an African cultural fashion, want to hear.

I want Hannah to share her grades because it encourages character development and opens up avenues for honest communication about the moral support and encouragement she needs to improve.

Grades represent a point of contact and a means for relationship building with Hannah that I wouldn’t otherwise have as far as her academic life is concerned. I would love my daughter to share freely and tell openly not just the grade letter, but the story behind it, the emotions, the attitudes involved, the circumstances, the degree of difficulties and the challenges about those grades.

If Hannah earns a bad grade, I would like her to see the effects that negligence and unpreparedness can cause. When she earns a good grade, I like to see the excitement of a life lesson that hard work is always rewarding.

Hannah Badiata

My expectations:

Part of my own expectation for good grades stems from my parents because they have always encouraged us to work hard and keep our grades up. I still hear the voice of my parents ringing in the back of my mind to strive to do my best, work hard and not be lazy.

My siblings and I enjoy sharing our A’s and B’s. When we do well we are joyful and can’t wait to tell our parents, but sometimes it’s the opposite outcome.

I’ve learned that there are ups and downs in life and in academics. When I have not done as well as I would like, I’d rather not tell my parents.

My expectations of my parents:

It’s important for parents to understand that sometimes grades don’t reflect my total work ethic. I can work very hard, study, and get help when needed, yet I have days where my test grade does not reflect all the work I put in. I’m sure many other students can relate with me when your grade is .5 away from being an A, but that is not shown on our transcripts.

It helps to have parents who set grade expectations beginning at a young age, because I believe that it teaches us to strive to work hard, do the best that we can, and it puts that desire in us to be successful. This also transfers beyond our education and the classroom, it teaches us how to be accountable in every aspect of life.