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Florida Parent Gives Letter Grades An ‘F’

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Studies suggest focusing to narrowly on grades may be doing more harm than good for school kids. (Getty Images)

Studies suggest focusing to narrowly on grades may be doing more harm than good for school kids. (Getty Images)

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DADE CITY, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – When the mother of a Florida middle school student complained about her son making the honor roll, she didn’t expect the school to take her side.

Beth Tillack tells the Tampa Bay Times her seventh-grader was getting poor grades in his civics class at Pasco Middle School.

But his report card gave him an GPA of 3.16, just enough to get him on the honor roll list.

The reason, three As and a D…in civics.

So Tillack wrote to the school superintendent Kurt Browning.

“Talk about minimum standards!” she wrote. “So now instead of losing privileges and trying harder, he now thinks he has done enough. I am so shocked.”

Browning and his staff agreed with her concerns, and demanded answers.

Assistant superintendent Amelia Larson tells the Tampa Bay Times the education focus on letter grades has a huge downside: it can paper over weaknesses in a student’s performance and discourage kids from trying harder.

“If we give the wrong message,” she said, “the kids may be content at the level they are at.”

Principal Kim Anderson reviewed the report card and found that while he did well in most subjects, he just wasn’t interested in civics.

Tillack says she’s learned from working closer with school staff and her son’s teachers.

“The overall thing is, if a child knows they can do the minimum and get by, what kind of message does that send about the other areas in their life?”

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