My experience as an educator and guidance counselor has led me to believe that many students fail to achieve academically for a variety of reasons:

1)They are having trouble coping with family conflicts, arguments, divorce, life traumas such as death, illness and/or disability in their family!

2)They lack supervision at home and/or inconsistency/follow-through with rule/expectation enforcement!

3)They do not value education (perhaps their parents don't either), students don't value learning, they don't have goals (educationally or otherwise) and while at school, these students are only there to socialize and interact with their "friends" (seeking attention)!

4)They succumb to negative peer pressure (to be "average" and not try their best to achieve to their ability)!

5)They actually lack the mental ability to read, write, memorize, problem-solve, etc. Many of these students already have been identified by educators and are receiving extra support for their disabilities! Possibly, some medical issue or problem is interfering with their abilities to learn. It may be wise to consider an evaluation for special education/IDEA or 504 accommodations.

In every building I've worked in the 90/10 rule applies; 90% of the students don't have grade problems, but 10% of the students do. Here are some ideas for parents to use in considering rewards and punishments for academic achievement (not performing up to ability):

1-Work Permit revoked-the school may revoke a student's work permit for poor attendance and/or low grades; parents may also take away the privilege for their child to work during school!

2-Driving Privileges restricted/revoked-parents do not have to allow their son/daughter to participate in driver's education training. This includes restricting and/or revoking automobile privileges or not signing for a driver's permit and/or license until the grades improve or the 18th birthday arrives!

3-TV/Computer/Stereo/Game Player restricted/revoked-parents should limit TV/Computer/Game times anyways, but they should especially as a result of poor grades. This could include password protection on the computer or no on-line privileges or e-mail usage!

4-Telephone/Cellular Phone/Pager Privileges restricted/revoked-enforcement is the key; it is difficult to supervise, but it may be necessary! Certainly, cellular telephones, pagers and other electronic communications paraphenalia shouldn't even be a consideration until academic improvement is shown.

5-"Grounding"-students may not be able to attend social events such as parties or school events like games, etc. This may be for evenings, weekends or both!

6-Increased Supervision-demand that your daughter/son provide you a weekly progress report in their student planner from each teacher. It should include their behavior in class, their attentiveness, their participation, the assignments turned in, test achievement, etc. Parents may call and/or e-mail the teachers from time to time (perhaps every week) and definitely plan to attend parent-teacher conferences! Many schools have some type of Weekly Progress Report! Parents should make sure that their son or daughter bring home all books and assignments to review (daily or weekly)including course syllabi! Make the student write out every assignment every week in every class and post it somewhere for daily/weekly review. Students must make better use of their leisure time to improve academic achievement, and this can only be done with more effective home supervision. This might also mean increased chores and duties in the home. Parents who are too busy with work and their own life (hobbies, committees, etc.), no supervision will send a strong message: I don't care!!! On the other hand, don't be overinvolved either. It is the student's responsibility to do the work. Parents who do their children's work for them don't help them learn what they is expected; thus enabling further continuance of irresponsible behavior.

7-Individual and/or Group Counseling-this is for students who need help in dealing with stress, peer pressure, goal-setting and attainment, etc. This includes a "neutral" non-family member. There are many avenues and issues to explore, but it is up to the student to recognize the need to do so! Another area to consider in counseling would be the feelings associated with following strict rules and harsh treatment, which results from not following rules, and can make one feel like being a "prisoner" in their home. It would be a wise idea to ask the therapist for a release so your school guidance counselor and staff may share information with your permission.

8-Rewards-individualize rewards to fit the student. Some students prefer different types of rewards. Look for opportunities when students are improving! There are five ways to show love to another: a)Gifts b)Praise/words of affirmation c)Service d)Touch e)Spending quality time together. Some students may prefer special concert tickets (gift) while others may prefer having something done for them (service). Many teenagers don't want to be touched by adults nor do they want to spend a lot of time with adults so this may eliminate some choices. Don't forget that a parent's approval or disapproval is a powerful reward or deterrent! Grades should be a reward intrinsically (i.e. the satisfaction of doing well) and shouldn't always necessitate extrinsic rewards. I don't agree with the philosophy of paying students for achieving certain grades; however, rewards that are mutually agreed upon in advance could include cash awards, gift certificates, etc.

9-Community Service/Volunteering-How about having this rebellious teenager contribute their time to a worthy cause? This may help build character, and most of all appreciation for the wonderful home, school, family and other blessings in their lives.

10-Network with other parents-You'd be surprised at the similarities that other parents are having with their children. These same children are always looking at the inconsistency of supervision with parents in their own home and their friend's homes; then, comparing all the injustices. They never consider that parents may network and share pertinent information so they stay consistent with the messages of responsible expectations at home, school and in the community.