Exam time for parents

March 26th, 2009

I  was at my daughter’s school this morning to collect her results. While children were busy discussing their holiday plans, parents were huddled together and discussing grades. “It’s A, yaar,” I heard one of them wearing a particularly long face telling his friend. The response was “you are lucky, it’s B+ for us”.  “Poor fellows. Children shouldn’t let their parents down like this,” my neighbour, whose son studies in the same school, whispered .
It’s usual, I thought, as I am used to seeing over-anxious parents discussing their children’s grades in a manner as if the sky has fallen. But something about the parents’ conversation this time was curious. Everyone and her aunt were talking in terms of a decline in grades. If it was A earlier, it is A- this time; and if it was B- earlier, it’s C this year.
It’s surely impossible that everybody’s children have done worse than last year? Most children may give a damn about grades, but everybody? After all, some students were indeed coming out of their respective classes with a big smile — the kind of smile that is usually reserved for those with topmost grades.   
But I have read a lot about crisis management. So in my desire to be an ideal parent and prepare my daughter for the worst, I told her that the teachers have become stricter this time and she should be prepared for a lower grade. My daughter was, however, quick to dismiss the concern and reminded me of the gift I have promised to buy this Sunday in case she does better than last year.  
My neighbour, however, soon resolved the mystery about the parents’ apparent concern about grades. After all, they were talking about their own grades at their workplaces. Unlike their children’s exams where the grades are higher or lower depending on the hard work that a student has put in, the results of the exams at India Inc are throwing up only losers this time.
Most companies have just announced the results of their performance appraisals recently and grades ( and consequently increments) are lower across-the-board even if you have put in the same amount of work as last year. The only question is by how much. So, those of you who haven’t got your results (performance appraisals) yet, don’t be surprised if your supervisor is giving you ‘B” this time against ‘A’ for the same level of performance last year.
There are many companies which have taken the grading system to a new level. One of the largest Indian software companies, for example, has gone much beyond the conventional four grades of A, B, C & D. The company has extended it to H, which means every line manager will have eight grades to choose from. So last year’s C grader could well be this year’s G grader, giving the company flexibility to pay that much less. The same company was thinking about reducing the grades to just three a couple of years back to make its performance appraisal system less complicated!
In case this is making you feel depressed, here’s something to cheer you up: how many of you are buying gifts for your children this Sunday?

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