ERIC Number: ED445014
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Apr
Caught in the Grade Trap: What Students Say about Doing School.
Pope, Denise Clark
Some successful students were asked to reflect on their experiences with the high school curriculum, commenting on their sources of motivation, how they explained their school success, what they enjoyed learning, and what they wished they could have learned. School administrators defined the nature of the students' success, and five students were selected based on recommendations from teachers, counselors, and administrators. Over a semester, each student was observed and interviewed. The five student portraits that resulted examined in detail the daily classroom experiences of these students and the processes they used to make sense of their lives. These portraits show that being system savvy, or conspiring with others to work the system, does not ensure favorable results, but certainly can help. Most of the students knew how to "cheat" by using time-saving, grade-enhancing devices that meant that assignments were not done to the letter of the law. Because of the many messages about success sent by the school, the community, the colleges, parents, and even peers, these students felt trapped. They also struggled with routines that made them feel like robots. Students also often varied their behavior from class to class to suit the perceived requirements of a particular teacher. The evidence from these students suggests that schools teach the need to cut corners or cheat to demonstrate success, and that they must conform and act in ways that lead to high grades, high test scores, and the praise and recommendations of teachers and administrators. However, it was apparent that these students had access to supports that many students in the United States do not have. (Contains 41 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 24-28, 2000).