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Quick intervention can help stop failing grades, says APSU prof

November 18, 2003


Dr. Patti Wilson, associate professor of psychology at Austin Peay, says when a child starts bringing home Fs, parents and teachers must act quickly.

There are two major reasons for failing grades: non-completion of assignments and poor test performance, she says. One of the most important things for parents and teachers to do is to establish consistency in expectations, rules and routines. Its important for children to know what to expect during the school day and during homework times.
November 18, 2003


Dr. Patti Wilson, associate professor of psychology at Austin Peay, says when a child starts bringing home “Fs,” parents and teachers must act quickly.

“There are two major reasons for failing grades: non-completion of assignments and poor test performance,” she says. “One of the most important things for parents and teachers to do is to establish consistency in expectations, rules and routines. It's important for children to know what to expect during the school day and during homework times.”

She adds that the child's work environment should be free from distractions. He or she should know that non-related activities are off-limits until study time is over.

Wilson also suggests the following strategies for teachers:

1. Make sure the instructions are clear and comprehensive.
2. Make the assignments long enough to teach practice but short enough to ward off a sense of being overwhelmed.
3. Give assignments that have real-world applications and are fun to complete!
4. Grade the homework!
5. Keep a chart of homework completion to help a child “see” his or her progress.
6. Teach study skills!
7. Encourage students to ask for help when they don't understand a test question, and answer test questions with an educated response instead of a random guess.
8. Let parents know when a test is scheduled and what material it will cover.
9. Give students a chance to correct their exams during the review.
10. Make sure students have enough opportunity to study for the test.

If failing grades persist, a referral to the school psychologist may be in order.
—Rebecca Mackey