How does Nora's character change throughout Andrew Clements's The Report Card?
At the start of Andrew Clements's The Report Card, Nora feels she is able to single-handedly change a society that revolves around judging intelligence based on grades and on pressuring kids to earn good grades. By the end of the book, Nora sees just how great a task she was trying to take on by herself, and her attempt to change things was causing more harm than good.
Nora felt motivated to protest against grades when her best friend Stephen did poorly on the Connecticut Mastery Tests because of the pressure he was under to do well, and doing poorly on the tests made him feel stupid, which she knew wasn't true. In contrast, students who did well and were put in the gifted program, such as Merton Lake, felt more intelligent than other kids, which was equally untrue. Nora's plan to protest against the reliance on grades to measure a student's worth goes so far that she and Stephen encourage half their fifth-grade class to earn zeroes on a social studies quiz. Since their actions are seen as vandalism, a large meeting with school staff, parents, and students is held in the principal's office. When there is talk of suspending the two kids, Mrs. Byrne, the school librarian, stands up for them and points out that they did not intentionally cause harm; they just naively tried to "get everyone to look more closely at some of the negative side effects of testing and grading" (116). Throughout all of it, Nora had been realizing the enormity of what she was trying to tackle and that her actions were upsetting people and making it appear she thinks school is a joke, which were not her intentions. Therefore, she apologizes to her classmates and explains she was wrong to think such a major change could be made so quickly and singlehandedly. She ends by saying there are more people than just herself who see grades and testing as being an issue, and the only way to tackle the issue is by working together over a long period of time.