Peet adds life skills to grade reports

This year Peet Junior High is starting something new by having their student fill out a Life Skills form every couple weeks. 

This form has three main ideas behind it which are organization, respect and work completion. Students put down a combination of pluses or minuses in each category for themselves and then teachers fill out the form for each of their students as well.

Peet Junior High Principal Bill Boevers said that they made this change because “After we started with learning-based grading, one of the things we found is we don’t really have a good way to report to parents on things like work completion, organization and kids being respectful to adults. We know those things are important, and we want to be able to communicate with parents, ‘Hey, here’s how your students are doing with this,’ and that was a way to be able to communicate with parents as well as let kids know if they’re meeting expectations or not.”

While this change is very new to the school and students according to Boevers, “Holmes had done this for probably 10 years or something very similar to it, and we’ve talked about it with our leadership team at different times, and we just within the last year or two decided this is a direction we want to move.”

Science Teacher Jennifer Schulz does have some concerns with this direction. “I think kids don’t appreciate the system and use the feedback as well-intended as it is. I don’t think parents take time to look at that feedback and really do much with it,” she said. “I don’t think the students take the time to reflect on the goals they’re written, and I think the students who do a good job with those goals are typically the kids who don’t need to.”

Boevers does, in fact, admit that, “Now does it make a big difference for all students? No, there’s some that still struggle with these things, but I think for a lot of kids they’re interested in getting two pluses on all of those because I know as a parent that’s something I would have been concerned with, and I know that most parents want to see that their kids are meeting expectations.”

Schulz also said that while this idea is in good intentions, it is a “burden” to teachers even though they “might not say on record” they feel the pressure. 

“When you think about all of the things teachers have to do now like standards-based grading, which takes longer to grade, the curriculum has changed, which is harder to teach. Management takes more time. We are doing character lessons. I feel like a lot of the parenting job has shifted to teachers. Now it’s my job to teach you to be tolerant, teach you to be respectful; it’s my job to make you reflect on your own behaviors, and a lot of those things when I was growing up were my parents’ job” Schulz said. 

Despite having some opposing views on the life skills sheet, both Boevers and Schulz said that they are well-intended. Once the school year ends, Boevers said he and the leadership group will look over the form and make any changes they see fit. 

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