Christina M. Currie: Pass-fail parenting |

Christina M. Currie: Pass-fail parenting

Christina M. Currie

I’ll give teens a warning now: There will never be a time when you don’t dread parent/teacher conferences.


As my scheduled appointment drew near, I was terrified.

Terrified I’d miss it and further my reputation as the absent-minded parent.

Terrified I’d get lectured for the things I wasn’t doing as a parent.

Terrified I’d hear that my children were the “difficult” ones or the “not-so-bright” ones.

Terrified because they’d sent home homework (a report card to review) and I could barely understand it.

I’ve been a little lost since schools moved from semesters to trimesters and from As, Bs and Cs to PROs, PPs, NEs and those elusive Es.

This time was better. The school district evidently has caught on to parents’ distress and is now sending a key. It’s called a proficiency checklist.

I actually had to be taught to use it.

If my kindergartener is proficient in first trimester reading strategies, it means she handles books correctly (woo hoo! She knows which way is up!) and can identify book titles.

Katie’s in second grade. Her proficiency checklist is two pages long. If she were proficient in first trimester reading strategies, that means she applies consonant blends while reading and applies long and short sounds while reading.


That’s what I thought.

Second trimester incorporates this vague category “number sense.” Third trimester is the worst. Then I have to start helping with homework in the areas of algebra, computation and probability. I think I know what those things are and I hope I can do them.

I am so not positive, though.

My kids are going in with a strike against them.

This system is going to have me shaking my head for years to come. I mean, please, even in college, I had courses that were pass-fail. Why the complications?

My theory is that schools send home this assessment of your child, written in secret code, to ensure you attend parent/teacher conferences. Hard to get a secret message and not try to decode it.

One thing I always remember when we’re done (and no matter how many times I do this, I’ll never remember beforehand), is that this is a collaborative effort geared toward informing parents and devising the best plan of success for their children.

It’s never a critique.

It’s never a lecture.

It’s never a meeting I leave without hearing the things parents love to hear – good things about their children.

So, chalk this up to yet another thing I added to a long “to-do” list, stressed over and tried to avoid even though it was fast, painless and enlightening.

There are few things my children do that don’t end up as a lesson for me.

Here’s yet another.

And here’s to wishing that parenting was a pass-fail course and didn’t have all these variables either.

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