Academic Alerts and Why They Suck

Hopefully teachers will take the move to open gradebook in January as an opportunity to stop sending so many stressful official notes.


Gabby Burns

In this photo illustration, a Friends student’s official note count is revealed (name removed to protect the innocent).

Gabby Burns, Contributor

In my opinion, Academic Alerts and official notes suck. I understand that students are supposed to be notified when there is a concern for us at Friends School, and yes, these notifications about low grades are helpful for us when trying to avoid failure.

But why do they have to go to our parents right away? Notifying the student first should be enough for us to fix our problems. If we don’t get the problem fixed after receiving the alert, the concern can go to our parents then.

We are high schoolers. We don’t need to be treated like we are in Lower School. Notifying our parents adds to the stress of high school. It doesn’t always help motivate me and the other people who receive these official notes.

Plus, sometimes we get alerts for things that are out of our control. For example, when I had Covid last year, I got multiple academic alerts when I didn’t do some of my work because I was really sick. When we are sick, teachers do not need to send us notes. We know we have work to do. But I am not going to do it if I feel like I am dying in my bed sick. Some teachers just don’t understand that.

Sometimes official notes can help motivate me to do better. For example, Friendly Notes are always nice to get. They are usually reminders or compliments from teachers, but they come in the same format as Academic Alerts. So, when I get a Friendly Note, sometimes I automatically assume it’s bad – then it turns out it is really motivating and helpful to read. When I receive a compliment or something nice from one of my teachers that I am doing well in their class, I get more motivated to keep trying hard. 

Academic Alerts make me feel like a dumb student. I do not like receiving them unless I know what I did and feel like it deserves one. In my opinion, sending them to our parents first without our teachers warning us or talking with us about the problem first, is an ineffective communication tool. Overall, I wish Academic Alerts and Notes of Concern were sent less often, and only for very big problems – not just missing homework.  

In January, our school will switch to an open grade book. This means students will be able to see their grades in real time, for the rest of the year. But parents won’t.

Hopefully this means the number of Academic Alerts being sent out will decrease a lot. The open grade book will solve a lot of problems, because students will be able to see everything they need to turn in and how much it is affecting their grades so that they can fix the problem immediately. I hope this convinces teachers that they can trust us to try to solve our own problems before alerting our parents.