Student Rights Experiment
InstructionsThis is a study of how the exercise of student civil rights affects a teacher's choice of a final grade. Your task is to imagine that you are a high school teacher. You teach a required senior-year course and Tyrone, Bessie, Keisha, and Rick are in your class.
As teacher, you assign final grades. You have calculated the students' objective scores on a scale of 0 to 100.  Now you must decide on a letter grade. The objective scores are typically translated as0 to 59 = F 60 to 69 = D 70 to 79 = C 80 to 89 = B 90 to 100 = A"D" means the student passes and "F" means he must repeat the class. Seniors who repeat do not graduate on time.
In the cases that follow, four variables differ from trial to trial: the student's Story, the student's Ethnicity, the student's classroom Behavior, and the student's objective Score.
Story: Each student has a story about challenging (or accepting) the authority of school officials by filing a lawsuit or other type of legal complaint against them. The law requires an adult representative, usually the parent, to file a legal complaint for a minor. Therefore, each story also describes the parent's attitude about the student's behavior. Ethnicity: Each student is black or white. Behavior: In class, each student either behaves courteously or shouts and disrupts the class. Score: Each student has a score of 45 or 58. The following is an example of a case from the experiment.
Story:  Bessie admits cheating
Behavior: shouts & disrupts
What grade would you give this student? F D- D D+ C
Sample Case Analysis
This case refers to the Story of Bessie, a female high school student. Scroll down to look at her story. Bessie cheated on a test, but she admitted her mistake. Against Bessie's protests, you (as teacher) gave her a zero on the exam, and Bessie's parents supported your decision. Before deciding Bessie's grade, consider the possible consequences of flunking her. Could Bessie file a legal complaint or otherwise damage the school's reputation? A flood of student lawsuits has made school officials cautious about disciplining or flunking students who might sue.
In this case, Bessie's parents supported you when you gave her a zero for cheating, so they probably would stand behind you again. Without parental support, Bessie is not a threat in spite of her disruptive classroom Behavior. This makes the decision to flunk easier. Nevertheless, if you flunk many students, the principal will scrutinize your teaching methods. Since Bessie's objective Score is nearly 60, you could pass her and flunk students with lower scores. After considering such issues, assign a grade to Bessie.
The Students' Stories  Based on true stories
Tyrone Files Due Process Lawsuit
For days, race riots occur on campus. The principal orders students to disperse, but they refuse. One student, Tyrone, physically attacks a police officer. Attempting to restore calm, the principal suspends Tyrone and others without a hearing.  Assisted by their parents, the students file a lawsuit. They claim suspension without a hearing deprives them of "due process of law" under the 14th Amendment. The court rules in favor of the students, ordering the principal to remove references to the suspensions from their school records.
Bessie Admits Cheating
Bessie, a high school basketball player, may lose her eligibility to participate in athletics if she doesn't improve her grades. The day after a big game, she oversleeps and arrives late for her history exam. That afternoon, the teacher grades the exams and notices Bessie's answers are identical to those of the straight "A" student who sits next to her. At a parent conference, Bessie admits her mistake. The teacher expresses regret that Bessie's grade for this exam will be zero. Bessie protests that she will lose her eligibility for athletics, but Bessie's parents support the teacher's decision.
Keisha Charges Racism
Keisha skips class to join 300 black and Hispanic high school students and parents protesting racism. Keisha says, "Many of our teachers practice racism, and our poor grades and low test scores are proof of it." They file a complaint with the U. S. Office of Civil Rights for racial discrimination. Keisha, backed by her parents, demands to speak with the governor and an important state senator. The senator invites them to testify about this issue at the state capitol and the principal publicly vows to investigate all allegations of teacher racism. Angry teachers claim the principal is afraid to oppose the protestors.
Rick Files Free Speech Lawsuit
For months, war protests disrupt college campuses nationwide. To prevent disturbances, local high school principals prohibit the wearing of popular anti-war armbands. Against the rules, but with his parents' support, Rick wears the armband to school. The principal directs Rick to remove it, but he refuses; the principal suspends him. Rick sues, claiming his conduct is symbolic speech protected under the 1st Amendment. The court rules in favor of Rick, declaring "school officials do not possess absolute authority over their students". The principal is ordered to remove references to Rick's suspension from his school records.
Please imagine the scenario for each case, read the set of variables, and assign a grade to the student.
Warmup TrialsClick on the link embedded in the question to re-read a scenario. Use your browser's back button to return to the question.