A = Average; B = Bad; C = Catastrophe; D = Disowned; F = Forever Forgotten.

Many Asian parents, especially well-educated immigrants, set sky-high expectations for their children. And while that drive to achieve has put Asian students as a group at the top of the class, it’s also forcing some uncomfortable conversations within the Asian community about the damage those demands may cause.

At Mission in the Fremont Unified School District, where 75 percent of the student body is Asian, a majority of students think their parents’ expectations are too high, according to a survey conducted a year ago. More alarming, half of the 1,175 kids answering the survey showed signs of depression or burnout.

And matching national estimates, the survey showed that 80 percent have cheated on homework and 70 percent have cheated on tests.

With juniors and seniors typically taking three or four advanced-placement or honors courses, students simply don’t have time to complete all the work, they said, and use online literature shortcuts like SparkNotes.

In the 25-to-34 age group, Asian-Americans have the highest proportion of suicides as a cause of death — 16.8 percent — of any racial group, according to Eliza Noh, assistant professor of Asian-American studies at California State University-Fullerton, who has researched suicide. The alarming numbers are often related to high family and social expectations, she said.

Asian-American students internalize those expectations, she said. “If they don’t fulfill it, they feel there’s something wrong with them.”

Ivy Wu, a Fremont Unified trustee and Mission parent, understands family expectations: “It’s the kind of pressure I was trying to escape,” said the immigrant from Taiwan. “It’s not that parents are evil and want their kids to suffer. They want for their kids more than they have for themselves.”

The question parents should ask themselves is, “What are you doing for the good of the child, and what are you doing for your own good?”

Source: High grades, high stress for Asian-American students in Bay Area (Mercury News) via Japundit


8 thoughts on “Asian Grading Scale

  1. The education and grading systems themselves are the problem, not parents who want the best for their children. The education system should be able to teach ideas fully to students. As I mentioned on my blog, this will not be done using mere lectures and textbooks. The grading system should also not be an eternal punishment. The current grading system doesn’t grade whether one learns information – it grades whether one learns information at a certain speed. Don’t get it this week? Failed. Students should always be able to replace those grades by taking another test. That would allow the education system to test knowledge over learning speed.

    1. I agree that the educational system needs improvement, but parents definitely have responsibility in pushing their children too much.

      You make an interesting point about learning speed vs knowledge in grading. Make up tests may lead to not intensive enough study for the initial test because students know they have a second chance. Heavy weighted comprehensive finals might solve this problem because you had the entire semester to learn the material.

  2. First you say students are studying too hard, but you believe make up tests will cause students not to study hard enough? I don’t think there is a specific amount that any student should study. Finals do not solve the issue, as it only give the student a semester to learn the first material introduced. Teacher often end up cramming too much information in the final weeks and students are left with what is essentially a test on new material.

    Students should just be informed at the start of high school that there are these 50 or however many tests they must get an 80% or higher on to graduate. They can take them as often as they like (as they can be easily generated randomly with computers) after school or on Saturdays. If high school takes a year for some students – Great! If it takes other students six years, that’s the amount of time they needed. There is no sense in cramming students into a mold and telling them they have one semester to learn certain information, not matter how skilled or unskilled they may be.

    1. Academic load and make up tests are different issues. Regardless of the intensity, make up tests may deter students from studying at their full potential, but they should be given if a student couldn’t attend the class on the day of a test due to a good reason. I wonder if any research was conducted on that issue.

      A semester is quite a big chunk of time… Most finals are divided into two sections: new material and comprehensive part.

      It is an interesting system, but I wonder what that means for the teacher side because you might end up with a class where every student is at a different point of the curriculum…

  3. The grading scale seems right. I personally inflict the same system on myself. This is a quirk that’s been around for a while, but it’s interesting to see someone write an article about it.

    1. Please don’t rate yourself on such a system. It is good to be ambitious and try to do your best, but you should be proud of your good scores and try to learn from your less successful results rather than viewing it as a catastrophe.

  4. Personally am Asian myself, but mom wasn’t as demanding as when I was younger.

    I haven’t confessed this in years, but I have cheated in math homework when I was younger. Always had to live up to that perfect older sibling. Tests are always stressful for me, but somehow I made it thru it. I still have the same expectation of myself in terms of internalizing things… which is a bad thing.

    But I believe that this study is very correct.. and I believe that even if the immigrant is not highly educated, there is an Asian expectation to succeed.

    1. It is good that your mom wasn’t too demanding 🙂

      Ah, you must have felt a strong pressure to match your older sibling 😦

      Yes, internalizing things is not good. When you receive a bad grade, it is best to use problem-solving based coping to address the issue rather than blaming yourself.

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