Academic Alerts Degrade Students

Nothing compares to the heart-dropping-feeling of seeing an Academic Alert on myFriends.

Thomas Ellberg, Contributor

It is no secret that the Friends School community is filled with students who are worried, pressured, and stressed about their grades.

Academic Alerts and Friendly Notes are only adding to the anxiety felt by students – especially when given midday. Academic Alerts can negatively affect our lives at school. When given during school hours, alerts can shape our community into a stressful environment.

Nothing compares to the heart-dropping-feeling of seeing an Academic Alert on myFriends. When you get one, the Official Notes tab on the myFriends page switches from a ‘0’ to a ‘1.’ Although seemingly harmless, this one change can derail a student’s entire day.

In addition, the school informs a student’s parents about a disappointing grade before they are aware it exists. This prevents meaningful conversations between the students and parents about a specific test or assignment. Many students do not agree with the manner in which alerts are sent.

“I hated them. They were the worst, and it is so dissatisfying to see your official notes bar turn from ‘0’ to ‘1’ because you know that you did something wrong,” says Friends alum Egan Gerity (‘19).

A Friends School junior, a lifer who wishes to remain anonymous, says that his fears when he sees a new Academic alert include “my parents getting upset with me and taking my Xbox or phone away.”

This is the reality for many Friends students, including another junior, who came here in 6th grade.

“I think about the fact that my parents are seeing it before I have a chance to explain it to them,” he says.

A Friends School parent chose to share her thoughts on the current system of sending alerts.

“I don’t like them. I think that it is valuable to keep the communication to the parents, however often times they come out before the child has the test back, so you can’t sit down with the child and discuss the actual results. The format does not allow for additional feedback from the teachers, such as, if a child already went to the teacher or if it was a particularly challenging test for the class.”

The parent suggests a new email system as an alternative to what Friends currently uses to send Academic Alerts. “It would be an email system that allows for more individualized information the teachers and parents. Also, it can be more individualized for the student, and it offers more flexibility in it’s wording.”

I believe that the best solution to relieving student stress about Academic Alerts is introducing a new system that would send alerts outside of the school day, alert students first, and give student-specific feedback.