An Invasion Of Privacy?

This was on our news on something called Inside The Box and I wanted to know what everyone thought about it.

“A teacher in Northfield, MN is now changing a method he used to help motivate his students. After a test, he would post the names and grades of students who got As and Bs on a board in front of the class.

It turns out that was against the law — because it violates a student’s privacy.

The teacher was told to stop doing that and he did.

But it creates an interesting question — how much information is too much when it comes to a student’s grade?

Do you think the teacher was wrong to highlight the kids who did well like that?”

Here are a few of the comments from this questions:

  • 6:21 PM – cadgma — You could say everything in every situation can be an invasion of privacy. If the teacher did not do it to punish the lower grades then let it be. What about all the High Schools and Colleges that post Honor rolls or Dean’s Lists in newspapers? Like I said if someone wants to find fault they can do that with every circumstance in life. We have turned into a country of whiners and we need to stop.
  • 6:17 PM – Nancy — I think the teacher should be allowed to post the scores.  Why are we so afraid to take pride in a job well done?  Many children strive to get on a list like this.  If we did this more often, we might not have so much mediocrity in our educational system.  It is not an invasion of privacy.
  • 5:45 PM – Faith — Should we also keep sports stats private? If we publish top scorers in games, does that violate anyone’s rights? What about honor rolls? Should we display great student art work? Should we eliminate 1st chair, 2nd chair, etc. in band? If we learn by imitation and are inspired by excellence, what is wrong with displaying excellent results? Is doing well such a threat to mediocre or poor performers that we need to keep excellence a secret? Scary!
  • 5:35 PM – guest — I know people who have had this teacher and it’s not a bad thing at all. People in the class get to see those that understand it and can ask others for help. It’s not like the teacher is posting the names of those who got F’s. The teacher is just rewarding those who worked hard.
  • 5:31 PM – Ben — The teacher should receive a fine/punishment as student privacy laws are not new at all.  In fact the school itself should receive fine/punishments as well.  The school should be providing good education as to relevant laws as well as better and approved techniques to  motivate students.  I work in a college and its VERY clear what to share/not.
  • 5:18 PM – Andrea — Some students who do well prefer to keep that achievement to themselves to remain humble and maintain relationships. Students will notice the names of those students not listed, which is also not always an accurate reflection on the work put into the class. Some students work very hard to get a “C” in a subject where another student may come by an “A” with very little invested.

What do you think of it?

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20 Responses to An Invasion Of Privacy?

  1. SKL says:

    This is an interesting question. When I was very young, i.e., maybe up to grade 4, my teachers sometimes posted the best examples of our schoolwork. It was motivating. I was a very shy person so I rember feeling both embarrassed and excited whenever something of mine was posted. Maybe there were some kids who never got anything posted, but to be honest, they were probably the only people who noticed that. I certainly wasn’t keeping track of who “wasn’t” posted on the bulletin board. And anyway, it doesn’t take much to figure out who are the slow kids in class. Their turn to read is traumatic, they rarely answer correctly in class, they get visibly nervous with every challenging assignment, they are known for not finishing their seatwork/homework, etc. There’s really no way to protect kids from this. I agree it’s not necessary to rub their noses in it in front of their classmates, but that’s different from recognizing those who have made the effort to get an exceptional grade.

    When I was in upper elementary, our school pushed a different philosophy. It was nobody’s business but yours what grade you got. It was forbidden to share this information. As one of the best students, I was to keep my grades secret to protect the sensibilities of my less-able classmates. And I did. I related to this policy and followed it through grad school. A very good friend in grad school confided that most of the school thought I was dumb, because when asked “how I did,” I’d say “I’m satisfied with my grade” and leave it at that. She and I used to study together, so she knew I was actually one of the top scorers. She actually started going around and telling people how I did since I wouldn’t. I really didn’t need that and I wasn’t motivated by others’ regard for me, but I did like knowing when I got the highest score. I think a person can be motivated and humble at the same time.

    I am really not sure whether it’s best for struggling students to be “called out” or not. I think it really depends on the individual. I think some people do get very demotivated and stop trying, while others are motivated to prove everyone wrong. Now, if you’re one of those who is going to drop out when the going gets tough, my question is, how far were you going to go anyway, and how many resources should be expended before it’s determined that you just aren’t going to ever be a lawyer or doctor? If you think about it, the bulk of our educational resources are spent on kids who are going into unskilled jobs anyway. It’s one thing to provide every child the “opportunity” to gain a good college-prep education; but if a child isn’t motivated to utilize the opportunity, that’s no reason to divert opportunities away from kids who are motivated / talented. I’d rather let kids know where they stand and let them figure out whether they want to try harder or try again next year (or, later, drop out).

  2. mssc54 says:

    Ben is obviously the father of a student who could not make the grade. Ben should be fined/punished since he has sired a stupid child. In fact, Ben’s entire extended family should have to pay a monthly fine for contributing to an inadequate gene pool.

  3. shanef says:

    I think people waste way too much time on worrying about hurting people’s feelings. I think it’s a great idea. What the hell is the “honor roll” it’s the same thing. In high school they had the A and the B honor roll and every student got a sheet that listed all the students that made it. They’re’s no difference.

    • shanef says:

      P.S. I was on the “honor roll” so my feelings didn’t get hurt! LOL It was the B “honor roll” though!

      • Tessa says:

        I was on the honor roll too Shane. I think it is important for teacher’s to always consider students feelings, it is a fragile time being a kid. Listing those names for honor roll is one thing, that’s fine, but posting grades of everyone in the class is not alright-if you got an F you wouldn’t want everyone to know.

  4. Lucy says:

    I do think that posting children’s grades is a violation of their privacy. It should be up to the children to share this information with their peers, not the teacher. Children can be mean, bullying brats and I can imagine that it wouldn’t be long before certain students will either be called “nerds, geeks” or “stupid, dumb”. You, a similar thing happened to my boyfriend when he was in school. He was taking a continuing education chemistry class that met once a week. After the first test the professor actually told the whole class that he had a 100 on the test. For the rest of the semester the other students dropped sarcastic remarks (Oh I bet you think this material is easy; Let’s ask the genius whether our answers are the same, etc.). Clearly my b’f was an adult and handled this situation without much problem. However, children are not necessarily as secure with who they are and might be influenced by other people’s reactions. Although posting the grades might have positive influences (motivate students), I think the potential negative consequences outweigh the positives. More importantly, I think a similar approach can be taken without providing students names. Teachers could write down the number of students that got A’s, B’s, C’s, etc. They then could discuss some mathematical concepts, such as %, ratios, and means. I think seeing that over half the class got A’s can be equally motivating to the ‘C” student as seeing the names of his/her peers.

  5. Joy says:

    I kind of feel two ways about this so I’m kind of on the fence. If it were me, I wouldn’t want people to know whether I did good or I did bad. I just didn’t like attention drawn to me. I was shy and very easily embarrassed so good or bad, it would have embarrassed me.

    On the other hand, he didn’t do this to punish anyone. It’s not like he set out to single anyone out. He was simply publishing the A’s and B’s. Giving those kids a pat on the back. It’s not like he was publishing the D’s and F’s.

    The only reason I feel this is different from an honor roll type deal is that the honor roll only comes out 4 times a year and it’s printed in a school newsletter or the towns newspaper. These grades are posted on the blackboard in the classroom after each test. It’s a lot more often. Maybe if he posted them on a bulletin board or something I might not be struggling with it. I just wouldn’t want my name to be on the board and I wouldn’t want it not to be on the board. Ya know??

  6. SKL says:

    Would people be OK with the idea of posting the entire range of grades earned, but not listing who earned what? That way you’d know if you were #1 or #15 or whatever.

    Would it be OK if the teacher only gave out the top 1 or 3 names?

    Does it matter whether this was a math paper or art or penmanship?

    Does it matter whether it’s done in 2nd grade or 8th grade?

    And does any of this really protect the kids who are doing poorly? Don’t they always give themselves away, especially when they are young?

    Another point – for a young child, does knowing that the high grade went to the kid who sits quietly doing her seatwork / reads at home / pays attention to the teacher help to show the other kids what works & what doesn’t work if they want to do better?

    I do think it’s unhelpful to be negative on the teacher. Even if his action was misguided, he meant well.

    • Joy says:

      That’s where I agree with you SKL. I think this teacher meant very well. I think he just wanted to give those kids who earned good grades a pat on the back. I don’t think for a minute he was being malicious.

  7. Nikki says:

    I don’t think it should be up to the teather to let everyone know what each person got on a test. Quite frankly it’s none of anyones business. I know for me personally, if i got a bad grade and it was up on the board for all to see it would not have made a positive impact on me. It would have made me crawl up into an even smaller ball than I already was. Now if it were a good grade I very well may feel different about it, but I wouldn’t be willing to feel better about myself knowing others felt bad about themselves.
    I can see that teather had nothing but good intentions and thought he was doing something good for his students. I don’t think it’s right though and IF I were a teacher I wouldn’t have chose to do the same.

  8. Just a Mom says:

    I don’t have a problem with what this teacher did at all. A little competition is always good in my opinion. It think it is important for the kids who did above average to receive a good old pat on the back and it will motivate the others to do better.

  9. Katherine :) says:

    I disagree entirely. This recently happened to me, a teen. My teacher, who consistently refused to tell me what I was doing wrong in class or give me help when I asked for it, decieded to annouce to the entire class that I was failing. And hold my grade up for the whole class to see, embarrassing me, and verbally assaulting me for the fiftieth time in the years he has taught me

    • Joy says:

      That kind of behavior is certainly wrong Katherine and I hope that teacher of yours got questioned about it. That’s not the kind of thing I mean by this. This teacher only published A’s and B’s and nobody who was failing. What your teacher did was awful.

  10. Tessa says:

    In my opinion, it is wrong and does violate privacy. Some students have learning disabilities that are unknown or have difficulty at home and it makes it even harder for them to learn if they are worried about others making fun of them or judging their bad grades. This is not positive for them. Every student deep down wants to do good and have good grades.

    Great for the ego of the students doing good. The teacher can “pat” them on the back by calling the ones who did good forward or giving them a star! Many of my past teachers posted the grades on the wall, but with a passcode-numbers-only each of us knew so no one else knew it was your grade or which was yours.

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