No Pass, No Play. No Problem? Do School Activity Eligibility Requirements Help Students?

The school rule known as “No Pass/No Play” is designed to motivate high school students to pass every class, or be barred from school-sponsored extracurricular activities. “No pass” means no football, no drama, no nothing, for students with failing grades.

The rule sends some powerful messages:

Academics come first.

Failure has consequences.

Don’t mess with Texas. No kidding.

Texas was the first state to enact No Pass/No Play into law, based on recommendations from a 1984 commission on school reform led by Dallas businessman H. Ross Perot.

Texas later amended their rule, exempting some high level classes from “no pass”, and cutting the “no play” period to 3 weeks – just in time to get a player back on the field during football season.

But No Pass/No Play spread like wildfire from Texas to the rest of the nation. Sixteen states have No pass/No play rules and by 2007, a total of 32 states had some type of conditional eligibility for extracurricular activities. In Maryland, local school boards decide eligibility based on students’ academic progress toward graduation.

Students in Harford County Public Schools can fail up to 6 classes in four years of high school and still earn a Maryland diploma. But the local school board voted to adopt the more stringent No Pass/No Play rule, by gradually limiting the number of classes a student could fail and still participate in extracurricular activities. First, it was two classes, then one, then none, beginning with results from the fourth quarter of the 2005- 06 school year.

Eligibility in Harford County is determined each quarter for the subsequent quarter. So, one failing grade on a quarterly report card means that a student is ineligible for the next quarter, and for as long as the student is failing at least one class. Students can get back on track by passing all of their classes, becoming eligible again in the following quarter.

Some exceptions are made for students who go through an appeals process. But in Harford County, as in much of the nation, No Pass/No Play has endured as a “get tough” policy. Has it also been good for kids?

There’s plenty of research linking participation in extracurricular activities to positive outcomes for students. By contrast, research on the effects of No Pass/No Play is remarkably sparse, especially given the policy’s popularity.

A 1994 follow-up study of Texas students showed that No Pass/No Play had what researchers called a “slightly positive effect”. The problem is that No Pass/No Play was implemented along with a series of other school reforms, so the study concludes that the results can’t be linked to No Pass/No Play alone.

A 1992 Arizona study also notes some success, but raises concerns about a disproportionate impact on African American, Hispanic and Native American students:

“The data suggests that the rule was at best a very modest short term success; however, this success was at the cost of having a disproportional impact on minorities, possibly having negative long term consequences, and costing school personnel a great deal of time and effort to monitor and report. These initial results indicate that the costs of this rule may not outweigh the benefits.”

Efforts to evaluate the policy in Harford County have been hampered by incomplete information.

After No Pass/No Play was implemented, the school board monitored the percentage of students who were failing one or more classes each quarter. The hope was that the new rule would motivate more students to pass all of their classes and the percentage of ineligible students would decline over time.

Although the policy was approved in December of 2004 and didn’t fully kick in until the spring of 2006, the reports given to the school board didn’t include baseline data, so the opportunity to compare pre- and post-policy ineligibility rates may have been lost, unless that data can somehow be recaptured.

But once No Pass/No Play was in force, data was collected and reported each quarter. The first set of data reported after the policy was implemented in the fourth quarter of 2006 showed that 38% of ninth through eleventh graders were ineligible for extracurricular activities. (Fourth quarter figures do not include seniors, because seniors will have graduated by the following quarter when eligibility takes effect).

Four years later, the ineligibility rate had dropped to 36%, in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Keeping in mind that failure rates tend to fluctuate throughout the school year, the bottom line is that for much of the life of the policy, about one-third of all high school students were ineligible for extracurricular activities.

But the figures are all averages. At times, some high schools had ineligibility rates less than 20%. At other schools, over half the student body was ineligible.

Still, the average 2% drop over the life of the policy is good news. As are reports that the overall number of ‘E’s’ (failing grades) have been in decline. It’s just that the good news can’t be attributed to the policy, without controlling for other variables. Plus, the data represent all students, including those who have no interest in extracurricular activities. Changes in the failure rates for these students can’t be attributed to No Pass/No Play, but their results aren’t separated out, so we have no idea if they skewed the overall ineligibility rate up or down.

To fairly evaluate the impact of No Pass/No Play, we’d have to know more:

1. What percentage of the students in extracurricular activities became ineligible each quarter?

2. Among these ineligible students, what percent later pulled up their grades and became eligible, and what percent did not?

3. How do the two groups compare in terms of size, drop-out rate and graduation rate?

4. What is the demographic breakdown of each of the two groups?

Absent this information and probably more, it’s difficult to understand the impact of No Pass/No Play. That lack of understanding alone may be reason to rethink the policy. If we don’t know the policy is doing any good, we also can’t be assured it’s doing no harm.

What if it turns out that the majority of ineligible students are living in poverty?

What if at-risk students who become ineligible are more likely to drop out, than get back to eligibility?

What if ineligible students with special needs or limited English proficiency are struggling because they are in need of services?

Similar to the Arizona study, we might find that the policy has had unintended consequences that outweigh the intended benefits. But that’s a discussion for another time.

For now, here is the latest eligibility data for the ten public high schools in Harford County. The school board no longer requests that these reports be presented at public meetings. The following was provided by HCPS to The Dagger upon request:

Comments

  1. a teacher says

    From what I have seen at my school, a vast majority of the students on the ineligibility lists are students who have no interest in extracurricular activities. I do know of studnets who pass their classes 4th quarter to play football in the fall, but then end up failing them during 2nd and 3rd quarter because they do not have a sport to worry about.

    All in all, I would say, unscientifically of course, that the policy is a good one because even if it doesn’t help in any great way, it doesn’t hurt either. If the extracurricular is that important to a kid, there is the appeals process.

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  2. Not from Here says

    Looks like the kids are better off appealing to the principals. Or does the principal make the final decision after the committee?

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    • DW says

      As far as I know the student has to appeal to the committee first and then if a waiver isn’t granted he/she can appeal to the principal. My wife sits on her school’s committee and some of the reasons students give for failing are ridiculous and some are legitimate like major family tragedies.

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  3. hssportsfan says

    Teacher hit it on the head. Most of a school’s list are students who are failing and don’t play sports. You would be surprised at the number of students who state I don’t need the course to graduate so I don’t care if I fail.

    The appeal process works as follows the student writes a letter to the appeal com. stating reasons why they grades are what they are. If denied the student can appeal to the principal. If denied again the student can appeal to the secondary superintendent.

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  4. justamom says

    Yet another HCPS program that was implemented, but doesn’t have any data to measure its effectiveness. I’m Shocked, Shocked!

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    • Cdev says

      None unless the school wants to forfiet! I find that it is mazing the number of appeals granted at some schools!

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      • Sandy says

        I agree, and they aren’t supposed to be participating in any extra curricular activities, including clubs, dances, concerts, proms, etc. Another useless policy because it isn’t enforced.

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  5. Kate says

    This policy sounds good but it doesn’t appear to be working since the Route 40 schools have 50+% ineligible. It seems to me that when we are putting all of this money into these facilities that we are turning around and saying that 50% of the students (in some areas) can’t even use them. I keep going back to the question of whether or not a certain demographic/group is being more effected by this than others. I bet the overwhelming majority aren’t white girls. What about kids who are in schools with really poor teachers who have gone through the system but can’t cut it in high school? Where is the “punishment” for those teachers or the school that let that kid get to that point. It isn’t always the student’s fault.

    If kids are trying and working on doing better in school, is it really accomplishing anything by putting them out in the street at 2:00 in the afternoon to perhaps get in trouble? I know from my own kids that they do much better when they are staying after school and have activities.

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    • Cdev says

      True it isn’t just the kids failure. It is the schools, and PARENTS failure too! After all learning starts at home! When you send your kid to school or send the message school isn’t important or enable them and make excuses for why they deserve an A they did not earn. You too are part of the equation of failure. BTW look at non-route 40 schools and see how many enabling parents they have who argue about why Junior deserves a grade they did not earn and that is the hidden part of the equation.

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      • Sarah says

        Prior to entering high school, there are many students who receive failing grades in middle school and still get promoted. Maybe that contributes to the problem too? Students feel that they can do nothing/almost nothing, still get promoted, and then when they hit high school think that still applies.

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        • Cdev says

          On the flip side my wife said she has many students at her MS in 8th grade who fail everything despite their obvious intelligence (simply because they are LAZY). Then when they get to HS and want to ply football or something seem to pass classes. This data while strictly imperical would indicate it has a positive effect. Maybe not for all students but for some it works.

          For those that question the policy what standards would you suggest? From a sports angle you must have standards. PG county has a 2.0 and no E policy with NO EXCEPTIONS. Calvert uses a sliding GPA 1.8 for freshman to 2.2 for seniors. Anne Arundel seems to have a no E policy but you may be reinstated at progress reports or when the techer whose class you are failing indicates you have been passing for at least 3 weeks.

          I think the crux of the problem is the appeal process and it’s unequitable application from school to school. Maybe a central county appeals board would be better then individual schools? If we want to have appeals at all.

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  6. ceedunny says

    Maybe an in-school committee (comprised of teachers, administrators, and students) should be formed to determine how effective the rule is and to evaluate the intended and unintended consequences occurring in each affected school.

    Generally I think it’s a good idea to limit participation in sports, etc., to students who are at least actively (and preferably successfully) engaged in their coursework. However, for some students extracurricular activities lead to better academic results and so limiting their participation worsens academic or other long-term outcomes.

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  7. Brenda says

    The fact is that often times it IS the teacher that dictates who plays and who doesn’t. If the teacher is a sports minded person the students playing a sport gets a better grade than they deserve, extended time to turn in assignments etc. Similiarly, if the teacher doesn’t support sports related activities teachers offer nothing in the way of helping, inspiring etc the student. I have seen this multiple times. There is a particular teacher that is at HHS that typically gives sports players poor grades. She has been heard multiple times stating she doesn’t believe in organized sports.

    This policy is only as good as those involved in grading and involved in implimenting the policy.

    The policy unfairly discriminates against those children who live in low socio ecomomic areas, which is attested too since the Route 40 corrider has the highest ineligibility. One needs to realize that if the young boy living in a home without parental support may come to school ONLY to play ball. If you take away the game, that same boy may end up quitting school and taking up the thug lifestyle. Is this really the desired result? There has to be alternate ways to keep these kids in school. Do you suppose that these children living in squalor, without parental involvement have the resources to do some of the homework, projects etc? Is mom running out to get that poster board, providing them with access to internet? If we want to break the cycle we need to find alternate solutions. I do not think that this policy works.

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  8. Chris says

    There is something to be said for the motivational power of sports and other extracurricular activities. My students who are involved in athletics are very motivated during the season, especially those who play under coaches with strict grade policies. The players who are required to complete weekly grade sheets by all of their teachers are doing well. This is especially true of coaches who bench players who have D’s and E’s. This is supplemented by a supervised, silent study hall for an hour or two after school before practice. The problem becomes when extracurricular programs do not have that level of grade monitoring, and have a non-existent or an unsupervised study hall program.

    There is something to be said for students when they have that level of adult involvement in their lives. I know a number of students who are ineligible who could use that level of motivation. Otherwise what happens is we have students who are written off by the school and probably at home as well. “You failed so don’t bother getting involved.” Instead of “You failed, but we know you like to play______ or do _______. Let’s see if we can get those grades up.” The students who are still failing at game time will still be benched, but maybe after a few games their coaches and teammates riding them about their grades we will see an improvement.

    A side topic, in these trying economic times, is the amount of funding spent on athletics versus the number of students who are actually able to participate. I teach at a school with over 50% ineligibility, so our athletics funding goes to what sees like a very small percentage of our overall student population.

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    • a teacher says

      Even if 100% of your kids were eligible, the basketball team will still only have x number of players. The number of kids doesn’t change.

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  9. Fair left Town says

    I have been personaly involved in this failed policy for years as a parent, HS Coach and advocate for youth in the Harford County community. It has been a complete failure and I challange everyone to bring me a succes story that has came from making a young person ineligble.I can personally tell you of many young people who’s lives were changed and the opportunity to go in a positive direction was taken away.
    I applaud Brenda
    “The policy unfairly discriminates against those children who live in low socio ecomomic areas, which is attested too since the Route 40 corrider has the highest ineligibility. One needs to realize that if the young boy living in a home without parental support may come to school ONLY to play ball. If you take away the game, that same boy may end up quitting school and taking up the thug lifestyle. Is this really the desired result? There has to be alternate ways to keep these kids in school. Do you suppose that these children living in squalor, without parental involvement have the resources to do some of the homework, projects etc? Is mom running out to get that poster board, providing them with access to internet? If we want to break the cycle we need to find alternate solutions. I do not think that this policy works.”

    In good conscious take a good look at the schools results listed about and think hard about the dispairity in the numbers. You also may want to go to the HCBOE website and look at the expiriance of the teachers at these schools and the number of free and reduced lunches provided and you will find everyone is not playing from the same deck of cards.

    Points to consider

    1. Gangs have no eligility guidelines to join and gladly take those the BOE discards,

    2. No remeadial measures in place to help them improve.

    3. The appeals committees do not all follow the same guidelines school to scholl and often comes down to a personalty question. I was involved in a situation where a student’s situation clearly met the guidelines ( circumstance existed that affected the students chance of success outside of his control) but wise denied the appeal because a teacher felt he was a jerk. ( not in the guidelines for denying an appeal)

    4. Students that have documented IEP’s for learning disabilities are subjected to being ineligible even though it is in violation of the federal students with disabilities act. Most States also make this illeagal unfortunatly most of those on the 40 corridor don’t have the resources to fight this. It is not an acceptable reason for appeal according to the Harford County.

    5.As Chris states with 50% of the students in the route 40 schools excluded from these activities why should we fund them. We should make this a pay for play situation.

    6.Private Schools REQUIRE ALL STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN THESE ACTIVITES WE EXCLUDE 50% OF THEM.

    WE NEED TO ASK ARE EXTRA CIRRCULAR ACTIVITIES BENIFICAL AND HAVE REAL EDUCATIONAL VALUE OR NOT. IF YOU THINK THEY ARE HOW CAN WE EXCLUDE 50% OF A STUDENT POPULATION FROM THIS EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY. IF YOU DON’T THINK IT IS OF VALUE THEN US AS TAX PAYERS SHOULD DEMAND WE STOP FUNDING THESE ACTIVITES.

    MY LAST COMMENT IS IF YOU FEEL THESE ACTIVITES ARE WORTHWHILE TOWARDS EDUCATION, ASK YOUR SELF THIS. IF A STUDENT FAILS MATH SHOULD WE EXCLUDE THEM FROM ENGLISH?

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    • Cdev says

      I agree with some of your points however IDEA does not prevent a special education student from being ineligible. Especially if his IEP was implemented nd followed!

      #3 is a very big issue. Sadly the data suggests that some schools not on route 40 grant appeals to almost all that apply. The ones with the most means to control lifes curve balls seem to get excuses.

      I think that standards set the tone academics first but mybe an ineligible student could participate on limited basis until they remedy the grade situation and sustain it for a couple of weeks. This would give the kid immediate feedback for the positive action.

      My wife says she has had some kids whom have been motivated to try in school who otherwise where a hinderance to others learning.

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      • Fair left Town says

        Study halls and monitoring of students progress in order to participate in exta curicular activites for those not meeting the standards established would make to much sense.The big question is who would work with these students I know the teachers that pushed for the no E policy ( it is not a pass/play policy) never put foward any program or effort in offering assistance or guidance to these young people only a punative program based on no basis of fact, In fact this was approved even though the only studies and facts (see Cindy’s) aricle stated just the opposite.

        Most people think this effects the star athelete, that is not true coaches know who there stars players are and monitor them and work to keep them eligible. This failed effort really effects those students that might want to try a sport or extra after school activity or sport and are denied that opportunity to be influenced by the positive rolemodels and lessons in discpline, teamwork,etc. I would like to see a study of how many freshman once they are deemed ineligble in the 40 schools never get back into the mainstream of a school social life.

        No one mention the Scarlet A we put on these kids by putting them on the LIST and the entire student body knows they are failures. I think we should require that all grades of all students be posted foe all to see.

        Those students that are on the list that don’t appeal remain stealth to rest of the student body, while those want to participate in activies are outted so to speak by the appeal process and you wonder why there are so few appeals.

        Another big question is why are 50% of these kids not meeting the standard set year after year, Most jobs you get fired if you only succed 50% of the time. (Except the Orioles)

        As for the IEP students being a parent of a student that had one and coaching many students with them I think your wife would agree that basically none are folowed anywhere near 100% there is not enough time in the day for the overworked teachers to comply with. The other problem is that most of these kids parents either don;t understand their chtldren rights or have time to fight the fight.

        The answer is simple go back to what most scools had prior to this failed policy, and that is that in order to participate students must be progressing towards graduation. This program worked and was effective and promoted graduation vs. discouraging kids towards dropping out.

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        • Not from Here says

          You make some great points, Fair Left. There are so many students whose only good part of the day is an extracurricular activity. I know that when I was a kid, school was my safe haven. And we don’t know how many kids think that way about activities. I often think of a young woman who was in eigth grade with my daughter who had an absolutely angelic voice. In the high school concert, I missed her and asked my daughter where she was. “Oh,” she said, “she is academically ineligible to participate.” What a bummer for evryone. I have no idea what happened to her.

          On the socioeconomic issue: kids who have parents who check Edline regularly are far less likely to fail. But that parent needs a computer, Internet access, AND the desire to monitor a child’s progress. It’s a tough life for a whole lot of kids.

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  10. thestudyiwanttosee says

    I would like to see a study on how many of these ineligible kids actually want to do extracurricular activities. I would bet that a large portion of that 50% we talk about don’t even want to do extracurricular activities. We need to start with that number, and then look at data.

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    • TP says

      Why not just turn all of the athletics over to the Parks and Rec. Then we can do away with the no fail policy – Anybody can play anything they like – it wouldn’t be the business of the schools. Then, at least, the kids wouldn’t be pulled out of their classes on a regular basis to play sports. School would run till 2:00 every day for every kid – no more missing an entire school day for a golf outing or a county tennis match. Maybe they would actually improve on the tests if they were left in class for instruction! Think of the budget help if all those coaches stipends, officials stipends and added transportation costs were placed back into the operating budget for true educational purposes. On another up-side the adults involved could get kids to change jurisdictions, etc. and build up super duper teams of athletes who would be unstoppable against the kids of lesser ability. It would be great for everybody!

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      • Sandy says

        TP, Although I am against stacking teams and it is against Park and Rec’s policy, I would love to see athletics pulled from schools. I know the argument is that kids would lose scholarships, etc. Maybe they should pull them from colleges too. Parks and Rec does a great job, we just don’t need this in schools. I wouldn’t even mind so much if they were reasonable, but when teams practice til 5:00 every day after school and then on Saturday mornings, it’s just too much. My daughter would have loved to stay on the track and field team at her high school, but it left her time to do nothing else. She would get home after 5:00, eat dinner, do homework, etc. This left her no time for a job or other extracurricular activities she was interested in. These are kids, they should be able to play a sport without it controlling their life! Parks and Rec is perfect for this.

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        • DW says

          You’re living in Lala Land if you think there’s any chance of athletics being pulled from colleges…

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          • DW says

            I’m with you on that, but you’re exactly. There is way too much money involved in athletics for BCS schools. Outside the BCS most schools lose money on athletics, but they still keep them as a way to attract better students, donations, school image, etc.

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          • Cdev says

            DW BCS schools lose money too. An study said that outside of a few (2-5) schools most teams lose money on their BCS football teams because they invest way more into it then they make. Athletics is not a revenue maker or the huge caash cow it is thought to be.

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      • Kate says

        Much of the athletic recruiting has already been moved over to Club sports. Ask some of the veteran high school coaches and they will tell you it has actually hurt high school sports. Again though, this is about MONEY. These club teams are very expensive and that means they exclude lots of kids who can’t afford it.

        As for Parks and Rec taking over, I guess that would be nice in areas in the county that have separate facilities than the high schools (like FALLSTON)but many areas have to use the school facilities. Basically it is coming out of the taxpayer base, but Parks and Rec do put a lot of money back into school facilities.

        This policy mostly hurts the schools that have the most poverty and the most minorities. Sad but true just look at the numbers. It effects the morale of the school in many ways and it doesn’t just necessarily hurt the kids who can’t participate in any extracurricular activites. Sports are one of many the students are excluded from. This policy doesn’t distinguish who is trying and who doesn’t care, which teachers have a poor track record in the school, which classes the students are most likely to fail (because of curriculum or other reasons), or many other factors. Some kids really need the affirmation they get from this because it is the ONLY place in life they excel. Always doing poorly academically leads them to be defined by their failure(s). Is that really a successful outcome?

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    • Sandy says

      The BOE has asked for this information at meetings many times, and no one has them. In their defense, I guess you never know what is in a child’s mind to know their intentions, but they should certainly be able to give them the number of kids who are kicked off the teams because of it.

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  11. vietnam vet says

    Tp Say’s:we could build up a Super Duper team of athletes, unstoppable against the kid’s of ”lesser” ability. sound’s like a resurrection of the Hitler youth corps.

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  12. formerhsathlete says

    As a former hs athlete, who got to go to college because athletics I disagree completely with pulling athletics from hs. First of all athletics is an extremely small part of the overall budget. Apparently you have never seen a coaches salary. My hs coach was paid about $1000 for the season. That is 3 months.

    High school athletics help create a school atmosphere, and give school loyalty and pride.

    Not everyone should get to play sports that is part of life. I also believe that it is not that hard for a student athlete to at least get a d in a class.

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    • TP says

      I think athletics are fine too – my beef is how they pull them out of their regular scheduled academic classes for it. And, as the parent noted, they practice every day until dinner time. They are expected to put more time into practice than their academic studies or they won’t get to “play”. When the contests are rescheduled due to weather they get all pushed up in a row so that there is a contest scheduled nearly every day for several school days. If the teacher is one of the coaches, as frequently is the case, a substitute who likely is unprepared in the subject area is dispatched to the class to supervise a “free period” or at best some “busy work”.

      Now what happens when the students’ grades fall largely due to being pulled out of instruction? Why, it must be the teacher! Teacher has a bad attitude – not a team player. Or its just poor instruction! Must be the teacher’s fault somehow. And we hear just today that the governor, state supt, and even the MSEA support President O’Bama’s race to the top initiative for federal funds. Part of that requires that LEA (Local Education Authorities)tie teacher evaluations to student performance. That would be just fine with me so long as the student IS REQUIRED TO BE IN CLASS instead of being taken to an athletic competetions. Make the sports AFTER SCHOOL ONLY. Then bring on Race to the Top!Daylight saving time starts in March! Let the buses make their runs from elementary school and THEN pick up the kids for athletic competitions!

      It’s not just sports. Parents have a “green light” for vacations to anytime of the year they want, pulling the kids out at whim. Some of the principals have “club days” pulling the kids out of classes for chess, checkers, and donut eating instead of being in class, and this Harford Glen place, pulls the kids out all year long to serve as babysitters. Most kids aren’t able to keep up with the rigor unless they are required to attend the classes! Come on! Just keep them in class!

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      • Sandy says

        TP, I agree. I know the policy is that the kids must make up their work. There are 2 problems with that. If the teacher is the coach, the whole class misses instruction time. And some things can’t be made up. Science labs, book discussions, things like that. Everything isn’t just a worksheet that the kids can do later. If it were, we would have no need for teachers!

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      • JL says

        As a former high school student athlete, it was difficult missing class and I knew I had to work harder to keep myself caught up and getting my work done. That’s what it takes to be a student athlete. That’s why there are student athlete awards related to academics. You have to become a capable person who can handle the demands of playing a sport and manage your time effectively. These are all life skills that are taught. If you are unable to do this, then you should seriously reconsider trying out. I knew that if my grades slipped, it was my fault. Not my coach’s, not my team’s. Period. Stop flipping the blame onto anyone except the student. All of these things that you are complaining about are easily taken care of- do not agree to be a part of something if you cannot meet your obligations. Applies to any adult. Kids have to learn.

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    • Cdev says

      I think that you over exagerte the amount of time kids are pulled from instructional time. There re rules about practice time 2 hours MAX! A sport is not for the person who wants to do 20 other things at the same time. If it is a commitment to an activity one does not want to make, then don’t make it. Life is making choices and sports teaach real life skills like prioritizing nd managing time.

      BTW the vacation thing is interesting. How much time is lost when parents keep their kids home from school for vacations etc. or sick days where the kid is not realy sick.

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      • M&M says

        A whole other part of athletics to be aware of is how tardiness is handled… at least at CMW…if a student is late for school…even 30 seconds late, they are not allowed to practice that day. And if they miss a practice[without a dr's note]then they are not allowed to play in the game that week.[I sure would like to see if the other high schools in the county have this rule] This encourages responsibility and prioritizes school. But it sure does put pressure on the 3 season athlete. My son has played sports for all 3 seasons all 4 yrs. He will graduate this year. Sports have definitely enhanced his life and have helped get him attention from college coaches. And those coaches have in turn delivered his application to the admissions depts at their college. All in all, my family has benefited from hs sports, but my kids have surely been responsible and earned the rewards.
        There should be an after school study hall that takes place during practice/activity time for the kids whose grades fail. The kids could do the study hall instead of their activity, and once their grades are back up, they could get back into the activity. This is not rocket science. Thjese kinds of actiities are terrible thing to take from a child who loves what they do, as well as being a positive activity to keep a child in a positive space, being guided by an adult who cares. And, even well to do homes sometimes don’t give their child/children the guidance and support they need…this is an all round problem that can easily be managed if someone would give it a fair amt of attention to set it up. PTAs could get involoved, many schools have established business partnerships and a person involved in that could handle it. There are answers if we open our minds and look for positive solutions.

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        • CMWteacher says

          As a teacher and coach I must say I applaud the decision at CMW to be so tough on lateness. It is the early dismissals at the end of the day that really get students (particularly with spring sports that play on unlit fields, like baseball, softball, and tennis). The rotating schedule is such that three games scheduled in a week may cause a student to miss the same class twice, sometimes in a row. This is a problem, however the fixes are either 1) later games (not really possible without lighted facilities), 2) earlier school dismissal (and I sure as heck do not want to be going in any earlier, or 3) radically limit how far teams can travel (which frankly would reduce the quality of competition in some sports so much that it would sometimes worthless to play).

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        • Sandy says

          M&M, I understand what you are saying, I just think it is too much. And I think sports are better left to Rec. Councils.

          And I am so against the thought of how inflexible they are. After school is when most teachers can offer a little extra help.

          The other thing I don’t like about this policy is requiring the kids to have a doctor’s note. If my 15 year old wakes up throwing up, or with a stuffy nose and fever, I don’t necessarily think he needs to go to the doctor’s. Sometimes you can’t even get your kids an appt. the same day, especially if you speak with the doctor and he doesn’t feel he needs to see the child. Why should the coach dictate when to take my child to the doctor’s? I think between my child, my child’s doctor, and I we can figure that out. We don’t need to waste the money or the uncomfortableness of the child just because of an arbitrary rule.

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          • Sandy says

            Cdev, I agree. But why do I need a doctor to tell me that? I see no reason for a doctor’s note.

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          • Cdev says

            You don’t. If I understand what is being said that is for kids who attend school and miss practice?

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          • Sandy says

            Cdev, Thanks for the further info, but I still feel like if my child gets sick part way through school I shouldn’t have to take him to the doctors. In most cases, parents can make these decisions by themselves. I don’t take my kids to the doctor’s every time they are sick.

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          • Chris says

            It is important to note that a doctor’s note is not required for the single-day, run of the mill absence, but it is required if the child has been out for an extended absence due to illness (usually in excess of 3-5 consecutive days). Occasionally students are required by administration to bring a doctor’s note each time, but that is usually only for students who have had continual attendance issues.

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          • Chris says

            Moreover, a coach might ask that a doctor’s note be obtained so that he or she has an idea as to whether the child’s ailment has a chance to spread to other teammates. The policy may be used to protect the other children from getting sick, not as a punishment for the student athlete who missed school.

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      • DW says

        I asked my wife (who is a high school teacher and has numerous athletes in every sport each season in her classes) about how much time kids actually miss class because of sports or other clubs and she said it’s not very much. She also runs a couple clubs as well as being a class adviser and no kids miss any class time because of the clubs. While there are exceptions, she also said that for the most the athletes in her classes do as well or better on average than non-athletes. That is also the case at most colleges and universities with the glaring exception of some high profile sports in BCS schools which are essentially farm leagues for the pros (but the vast majority of hs athletes aren’t going to BCS schools and even fewer have a chances at making the pros.)

        As usual, the longer this topic goes on the more people are jumping head first off the deep end.

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      • Sandy says

        Cdev, I dont know what the official rules are, but they practice more than 2 hours. Everyday. And I think it is a shame that sports are set up so that if you want to play on a school team that is the only thing you will have time to do.

        I disagree about sports teaching real life skills. JOBS teach kids about real life skills and I think it is really unfortunate that a student can’t do both.

        We also know now that the repetitive motion of choosing one sport is not good for kids, they get more injuries that way. I think it would be better to lose some of the competitive edge and have more well rounded athletes. My middle daughter goes to the Science and Math Academy. Should we exempt her from English, Foreign Language, and History?

        I can’t answer about the vacation days, we don’t do that. I only keep them home if they are sick.

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        • Cdev says

          Sports teach life skills like time management, productive use of time etc. If a sports team is practicing more then 2 hours a day they are breaking the county rule on that as is publiched in the athletic hand book. Playing sport for 3 months is not going to cause a repetitive motion injury any more then typing on the internet if properly supervised. If your kids want a job fine it teaches the same life skill as sports. What works for one kid will not always work for another kid!

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        • JL says

          ugh. Just keep your kid out of sports so that the coach doesn’t have to deal with your whiny nonsense. Your comments are so obnoxious and remind me of a child who has an excuse for everything.

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  13. TP says

    CMW teacher makes my point – turn the athletics over to Parks and Rec. Keep the students in class. Even if they were kept in schools no need for lights during spring sports! Daylight saving time starts before the first contest of the season now!

    DW’s wife’s class must be one of the “easy” classes in the kids schedule. Not all classes in the schedule are “easy” ones. The AP classes and science laboratory work cannot be missed even once without throwing even the best students (most of whom are in athletics) behind. Again – makes my point – turn all of it over to the Parks and Rec.

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    • DW says

      I got news for you. She teaches AP and upper level elective courses that students can’t get into unless they’ve already passed other classes (along with a couple sections of a regular course.) My main point is that a lot of people are exaggerating how much class time most athletes really miss and how much of a negative impact that has on their classwork. It could also be she just happens to be a better teacher or at least one that her students like learning from more than other teachers. Or maybe because of the classes she teachers more of her students are just better motivated, smarter, and work harder than others.

      I do know that that in her regular classes she has very few problems with the “problem” kids that most teachers end up having major issues with because she’s fair, but she doesn’t put up with crap from them. She also has been forced by administrators to accept late work (which she would prefer not to, especially on projects that they have several days or weeks to complete) and dumb down some assignments (mainly summer assignments) because they were supposedly too difficult.

      I’m not getting any more specific than that mainly because I don’t want anything I say on here to reflect on her and over a variety of different articles on here I’ve posted enough that someone could probably take a fairly good guess at both who I am and who she is. While I don’t particularly care if people know who I am, since she doesn’t post on here I’d rather people not know who she is.

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  14. hssportsfan says

    Most teams aren’t dismissed from class until 1:15 to 1:45. So the amount of class time missed sometimes gets exaggerated. Also the high schools have a rotating schedule. So if the tennis teams plays tues and thurs the last hour class would be different each day.

    What I can’t believe is that some of you are advocating kids failing classes? If you took athletics out of the school wouldn’t you be putting more kids out on the street? Grades would serve even less of purpose to the group of kids that work hard to keep their grades up during the season.

    High school athletics provide a great thing for kids. Is it perfect? No way, but should we pull it because a fraction of the kids may miss out because of not passing a class? Why don’t we pull it because not everyone can make the team or got to play in all of the games?

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    • Cdev says

      Thus I revive my question for those who dislike this policy. What standard would you set if this policy is not OK!

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    • Sandy says

      hssportsfan, actually, all schools DON’T have that rotating schedule you are talking about. So if you had a game every other day, you would be pulled out of the same class. It makes sense to rotate, like your school apparently did, and we have advocated for it. But that decision was left to the principals and not all agreed.

      HCPS has kept track of the number of failing students since they began the 2 E’s, to 1 E, to no E policy. Their numbers, like always, are very hard to follow to keep anyone from getting any truth out of them. From really looking at them, the number of students who are ineligible hasn’t changed much. Just as many kids are failing at least one class. Maybe they are failing 1 class instead of 3, there is no way for us to tell. And we don’t know how many of the kids who are failing are interested in sports. But the fact remains that the same number of kids are failing, so the policy isn’t working. It’s intended purpose was to have less kids failing and it isn’t working. Why stay with a policy that doesn’t work? We need to come up with something better that does work.

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    • Fair left Town says

      hssportsfan

      I agree that extra cirricular activities are an essental part of the learning process for High School students. My problem is that excluding 50% ( to me not a small fraction) of the kids on the Route 40 corridor and not extending these educational opportunities to all students PROGRESSING TOWARDS GRADUATION makes me question this use of my tax dollars. Please reveiw the dispairity of the numbers Route 40 vs the rest of the Schools and tell me it is fair.

      In my first post I challanged anyone to produce any data that proves this punative approach has worked anywhere in the counrty since it was introduced some 30 years ago in Texas. There have been numerous studies about the detremental effects of these policies, that is why clear thinking Boards of Education have reversed thier policies throughout the country.

      There are also many studies out there that PROVE that accademic proformance improves while students are particapating in an extra activities vs any proof that anyone has been helped by being excluded.

      There are also studies out there that state that one of the most common thread of those adults that see themselves as succesful in life is that they participated in extra cirricular activies in High School.

      There is also a study that says women that participated in athelics as a youth and in HS are much less likely to become a victim of domestic violence.

      The above are 3 examples of studies that demostrate the positive effects of extra ciricular acitivities. We are excluding 50% of the most at risk youth from ever having a chance at any of these benifits is that fair?

      You say all they have to do is pass well “the survey shows” for what ever reason 50% fail at least one class on the route 40 corridor and this failed policy has done nothing to change that number. Granted the other schools have shown marginal improvemnet in the numbers but then again they are not playing from the same deck of cards.

      Over the past six years how many changes have been made to the cirriculums, text books and schedules in our school system ( just check on the size of the budget of the cirriculum developement department) but this failed policy because of some egos has been left standing.

      As to kids being cut, in most sports on the route 40 corridor cuts are basically non-existant other than your major sports. In many cases schools have a hard time fielding teams. In many cases kids that are cut by one of the major sports (ie Bastktball) are refered by their coaches to other minor sports. This is not just about Joe or Jane jock it is about all those kids that can’t join clubs,dance, music,chess, spanish drama,etc. We don’t hear about them but they are out there. To think that once a kid is denied an opportunity to participate they are going to rush home open a book and study is naive, a better approach might be requiring manadatory study hall in order to participate if you fail a class?

      One area of participation that has risen on the Route 40 corridor over the past 6 years is gangs if you don’t believe that call your local police departments.

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      • Not From Here says

        Fair left, you have a fatal flaw in your argument: that the HC school board acts in the best interest of students. Just look at the record: block schedule, earlier start times, career clusters. Are any of those things good for our children? Not if you look at the research.

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  15. Fair left Town says

    Not From Here what was I thinking lol There is good news the new board members that have came on board seem to be willing to look into the facts and numbers on this issue versus taking what is told to them by staff as the gospel. Maybe if the old long term Board members spent time looking into and demanding factual data many of issues, these mistakes would not been put upon are youth. They seemed more busy lobbying in the State house against Democracy and an elected School board that would represent the citizens and the youth versus being shills for the Gordon Street Gang.

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  16. hssportsfan says

    How about if it changed to the student must be on track to graduate. Students can fail a class, but still be on track. I wonder if this would work.

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    • Chris says

      If the county were to adopt a “on-track to graduate” extra-curricular eligibility policy, then would we exclude if they have failed high school assessments and not yet met the minimum composite score?

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      • Cdev says

        I think since you have to pass the HSA and the class to recieve credit then the answer would be yes

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        • Chris says

          A student’s receiving course credit is not contingent upon passing the high school assessments. While I feel that the two should be linked, the scores are typically received after the students has finished the course. As a result, the HSA has no bearing on a student’s overall course grade.

          Each year, some student squeak by in the class and fail the HSA. Some schools then require mastery classes to review and refine skills for the next round of tests, but those students maintain their eligibility.

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          • Not from Here says

            But students have all four years to pass the HSA. I cannot imagine that passing the HSA would be a requirement for participation. I would not support that–not like anyone really asks for (rather listens to) input when decisions are made. Hahaha

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      • Fair left Town says

        Why would that be a danger, and a danger “to who” that is the year that the course and direction where students will go in their HS careers are formulated if they are inelligble as a freshman the “survey says” they never become eligible under the current system and in many ways become dis-infranchised from extra cirricular activites throughout. That is one of the biggest flaws in the cuurent punative system without remediation.

        Once again I remind everybody that almost all private schools require participation in extra cirriclar activies.

        Cuurently with the 8 class schedules it seems we could make one class of freshman study hall where the teacher in those classes wpould be impowered to work with the students class room teacher to help keep them on track and develope good study habits in year one.
        But to answer the questions above the answer in my opinion is progressing (credit wise) towards graduation.

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        • Cdev says

          Let us say freshman who thinks rules do not apply to him plays all through his freshmn year and gets an E in every class then sophmore year rolls around. This kid is now on the 5 year plan and will never be on track to graduate on time until his senior year summing he goes to alot of summer school and passed all classes after that. Meanwhile will this kid understand or even yet try after that. No so you again are in the same boat. To progress to sophmore status and thus progress towards graduation one must have 5 credits and one in english and one in math.

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  17. Mom from TN says

    I am a mother of two kids and currently in college. I am writing a paper for my English class about “Why I think Students who do poorly in their academic courses should be allowed to participate in athletic programs. I stumbled across this websight and your comments while doing research for my paper and I agree with many of you…I have personaaly seen what this can do to a child. My daughter is 17 years old, A junior at UCHS in a small town in Erwin, TN…she has been a cheerleader since she was 5 years old and yes I know a lot of people do not believe Cheerleading is a sport but to my daughter it was. She has had asthma since she was diagnosed with it at the age of 1, so cheerleading was all she could do without having an asthma attack and as she got older, she had less problems with it. She alaways made A’s and B’s through Elementary and Middle school and when she was in 7th grade her father and I went through a divorce and it took a toll on my children and their grades, however my daughter still managed to bring her grades up and never had a failing grade on her report card. When entering her 9th grade year and in High School she made A’s and B’s in all her classes except Math, she was failing. I never was good at math so it was hard for me to teach her. I signed up for a tutor after school but many times she couldn’t go because she either had practice or a game and so much pressure was put on her to be there because they needed her for the pyramids, so I went to the school to see if her teacher would help her and he said yes..day after day should would tell me she just didn’t get Algebra, finally her teacher got so tired of having to explain it to her…he just passed her with a D to get her out of there. Going into her Sophmore year…Algebra 2, How was she gonna get this if she didn’t understand Algebra 1. She failed that semester. At the end of her Sophmore year this is where the problem began and what changed my whole view on this rule. They were trying out for Cheerleading for their Junior year and the day before try-outs my daughter was told that they had to enforce a rule that if you did not have a 3.5 gpa you could not try-out or maintain on the squad. She did not have that because she had done so bad in 1 SUBJECT…MATH and it caused her to not be able to be a cheerleader. She was crushed….I was crushed, to see your daughter cry night after night because she feels she is a failure because she feels dumb that she doesnt get math is very heartbreaking. All her friends that she hung out with, were no longer there because they were busy with Cheerleading and she was longer a part of it. Now here is the real kicker, when I went to the school over this, this rule only applied to Cheerleading and not any other sport, because we all know, how many football players, basketball players, baseball players, ect. Would be kicked off the team for the same reason, so that rule didn’t apply to them. Talk about being total B.S…but what do you do. How does one person fight a battle that I knew I would not win.

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    • Concerned Teacher says

      “How does one person fight a battle that I knew I would not win.”

      School administrations and school boards do not like their decisions questioned, and they most certainly do not like them brought into the light of public view. In a situation like your daughter’s, where there is clear injustice taking place, a call to the education reporter for your local newspaper to get this out in public would have been a great starting point. I encourage you to do this now so that perhaps your daughter might get to cheer next year. I hope that you can raise enough attention to this issue that either (A) you can get the policy changed or (B) the school administration changes its mind because it doesn’t want any more negative publicity. Good luck.

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    • Cdev says

      I will say one issue I have is when you talked about signing your daughter up for tutoring in 9th grade and how it was just to much to get her there and she had parctice and such…..that is the problem school should have come first!!!!!!

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      • DW says

        I gotta agree with CDEV. While I understand the fairness about this rule only applying to cheerleading and no other sports (which is wrong…it should apply to all sports and extra-circular activies including clubs, band, etc), I think you and your daughter have to look at the big picture. Doing well in cheerleading probably isn’t going to do much for her future, but doing poorly in school will probably have a significant impact on her future. I get that she was doing well in everything except math, but virtually any career you go into you need some math including some basic algebra and colleges (even community colleges) at a bare minimum are going to require her to pass algebra.

        That’s great that you got your daughter a tutor like any responsible parent would, but there had to have been a way to arrange sessions around the cheerleading schedule. My wife used to be a private tutor on the side and was usually very flexible about scheduling session times. She finally stopped doing it because so many parents didn’t bother to show up or be home for the sessions and didn’t bother to call her to cancel.

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  18. says

    @Mom from TN, you don’t say if this was a school-based decision or one made by the school board, but either way I would encourage you to take your concerns directly to the school board at their next public meeting. The situation you describe is clearly inequitable, in addition to your very valid points about the consequences of a policy that treats sports as extra-, rather than a co-curricular activity. You might suggest that the policy be suspended to correct the inequity and to allow for further study, considering some of the research that has been done on the effects of this policy in other school districts. Good luck.

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  19. A dad says

    What about in the case of a learning disability. Should this student be discriminated against because of the inability to learn?

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    • Cdev says

      A learning disability is not an inability to learn but a need for a little extra help to learn. If the student is getting their services than the students learning disability should not be a factor!

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  20. Patricia says

    If a child in high school fails only the last six weeks of english and can make a passing grade on the final exam. Will he qualify to play football in the fall? If he fails the semester exam in may and takes summer school and passes will he qualify to play football in the fall?

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  21. volunteermom says

    Check with our BOE on this one!! You cannot play if you struggle academically but you can drink or do drugs and still play! As of July, just in time for fall sports, a new code of conduct waiver is coming out. If a child is caught doing any illegal activity outside of school, it can not be held against them when it comes to school sports or activities! I was told this by someone and I have verified it with the BOE! This new change is a result of parents from Fallston, hiring attornies, claiming their childrens right were being taken away after they were caught under age drinking at a house party. An education is a right, but playing sports/school activities are a privilage!! For some reason this has been kept hush-hush and I guess it is because so many good parents will be upset!Also, several schools in the past have held their students accountable and disciplined them for the same thing but now they will have to turn their backs too! So sad!!

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  22. volunteermom says

    Patricia – I have heard of children going to summer school and still being able to play fall sports if they failed their last quarter.

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  23. says

    I stumbled upon this website in hopes to find answers on how to help my son. There were a lot of compelling questions and answers to the problem on who should and should not play sports.

    My son, who is on a 504 plan at his school, is in the situation that he failed his class in the 4th quarter.

    One of the main things to boost his confidence is that he is very good in soccer player. Because of him not passing, in the fall, will not be able to play HS soccer.

    I noticed that a lot of comments were that parents of children failing weren’t doing their part in helping their child succeed. This is not true for this case. I went to school meetings, meet with councilors, followed what was recommended by the school, had him tutored, not only by an assigned tutor but also by the teachers who taught him. All this to help him to succeed, and yet he still failed.

    Since he knows the policy that if he doesn’t pass, then he cannot play, his self esteem has dropped.

    I feel that this policy is not fair. Just because he has a difficulty in learning does not mean that he is not qualified to play soccer. Soccer gives him a place where he does succeed and give him confidence to keep trying going. Without HS soccer he feels he doesn’t even have a chance to be seen from a college coach. Does this seem fair to you?

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    • Cdev says

      Yes it seems very fair. In life if we fail to complete things to the level expected we get fired from our job. There are consequences. Playing Soccer is not as important as school is. If he is having trouble passing his classes than perhaps he needs to put more effort into them and not spend his time playing soccer oon the varsity team.

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      • volunteermom says

        Honestly, each case needs to be looked at individually. If this child has a learning disability as mom stated, that needs to be look at and find out why he failed before stating he is ineligable for sports. Most cases of ADD or ADHD needs activity such as sports just to stay on task, especially since they do not get any free time or recess after middle school years. Every child needs an outlet and many kids turn to sports which sure beats the ones who choose to get in trouble. That being said, as I posted on here ealier, you can be involved in illegal activities (drugs, drinking, robbery etc) in Harford County and as of July, the school cannot tell a child they cannot play sports or any other activity. So how can they tell a child with a learning disability that they cannot participate????

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      • says

        I agree, in life if we do not do well at our job, then we get fired. However, in life we sometimes can choose what we do for a living, and it is usually what we can do. But in school we cannot choose our subjects which means there are some subjects we are better at and pass and some subjects we aren’t.

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    • soccer parent says

      There are other outlets to play soccer like parks and rec or club teams. It doesn’t have to be the high school team. College coaches scout the club team tournaments all the time.

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  24. volunteermom says

    Mom – I know several people in your shoes. If I was you, I would start with asking the school for an appeal. Each HCPS has their own appeal board that reviews each case and can make an exception.(often approved) If he does get denied by them, then you can appeal the appeal with the principal of the High School. This is very common steps taken each quarter by students. Lastly, I would ask to have him retested and see if they can find any other concerns with your son. I know friends who have many restrictions on their children learning. Example – if he has something stopping him from the ability of reading and comprehending what he reads…he should not have word problems in math. I feel for you as it is heartbreaking for a mom and respect you for trying to do the best for your son. Good luck!!!

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  25. says

    My name is Alex Mitchell, I am the CEO of an upbeat coffee chain called The Coffee House, I have recently heard that coffee prohibits the learning methods of teens and was wondering if there should be bans or tariffs on coffee because of this. I would really appreciate some feedback on this matter.

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