Academic achievement is associated to lifelong benefits like higher socio-economic status and better health and well-being. Course grades also affect processes like college admission and scholarship. It is, therefore, important to analyze factors affecting academic achievement. Who is held responsible when students fail exams? While the schooling environment involves diverse players like the students, parents, student background, the society, and course structure, teachers and the school system have often been blamed for poor performance. However, although teachers and school systems play an important role of developing broad academic competencies in students, they are not to be responsible for low test scores and bad grades.
The main stakeholders in learning are students, teachers, and parents. Peterson et al. contend that the degree to which these three parties believe are responsible for academic achievement greatly influences student success (4). Students’ beliefs of who is responsible for their performance impact their behavior and motivation, as well as their development of competence, expertise, and academic skills. According to Peterson et al., students from low socio-economic backgrounds held their teachers responsible for their success or failure, while those from middle or higher socio-economic backgrounds took responsibility for their performance (4). Further, students who take responsibility of their academic performance are more likely to achieve higher grades. When students take accountability of their academic success, they commit to attending classes, participating in projects, and completing assignments. Contrary, students who point fingers at the teachers are less motivated to work hard. Therefore, holding teachers accountable for bad grades is not effective in improving academic performance.
Student performance not only relies on core knowledge and academic skills but also attendance, class participation, reliable assignment completion, social skills, and help-seeking behavior. Allensworth and Luppescu examined the role of grading practices, attendance and tested skills, student background, and course structure in student performance (5). While they revealed that grading practices vary across schools, both teachers’ grading and school have an insignificant influence on students’ test scores and grades. The strongest predictor of academic excellence was attendance and tested skills. Class composition is another essential factor in academic success. Students are likely to earn higher test scores and grades when in a class of high achievers compared to low-achieving class. This is because in a high-achieving class, competition is high, which motivates every student to work hard. These factors diminish the value of the teacher in students’ grades.
On the other hand, effective teaching can have an enriching effect on student’s performance. Teachers who dedicate extra time in lesson preparation and reflection are likely to yield better student outcomes than those who do not. Teachers can also use different instructional strategies and monitor students’ performance to ensure each student reaches his/her potential. Lastly, teachers can help students to achieve good grades by re-teaching the lessons that students did not master. However, students are the strongest determinants of their performance.
Students and parents often hold teachers and schools responsible for student performance while teachers contend that success depends majorly on students and parents. Although schools and teachers play an important role of developing a student’s academic competency, they play a lesser role in students’ grade compared to factors like student attendance, effective assignment completion, student background, and course type. Also, students who believe that they are responsible for their failure or success are likely to perform better than those who rely on teachers. Therefore, teachers and schools are not responsible for low test scores and poor grades.
Allensworth, Elizabeth, M. and Luppescu, Stuart “Why do students get good grades or bad ones? The influence of the teacher, class, school, and student”. University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, pp. 1-48.April 2018. https://consortium.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Why%20Do%20Students%20Get-Apr2018-Consortium.pdf. 6 Nov. 2018.
Peterson, Elizabeth, M., Rubie-Davies, Christine, Elly-Brown, Margie, and Widdowson, Deborah, A.M. “Who is to blame? Students, teachers and parents views on who is responsible for student achievement”. Research in Education, vol. 86, pp. 1-12. Jan. 2012. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235962117_Who_is_to_blame_Students_teachers_and_parents_views_on_who_is_responsible_for_student_achievement. 6 Nov. 2018.