Why does Nora earn Ds for Stephen and act like a cat in kindergarten in Andrew Clements' The Report Card? What are notable traits of Nora and Stephen?

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In Andrew Clements' The Report Card, Nora intentionally earns Ds on her fifth-grade report card as a plan to boost Stephen's self-esteem.

Nora has always admired her best friend Stephen because, even though he is an average learner, he is also a very hard worker, as well as a kind and caring person. By fourth grade, she begins noticing he is dreading school and working less hard, all because he earned low scores during the Connecticut Mastery Testing, tests that determined placement in fifth grade. Stephen had felt so pressured by his parents and himself to do well that, instead of doing well on the tests, he did very poorly. More importantly, he began seeing himself as "one of the dumb kids," which Nora knew was untrue (p. 24).

Nora, a secret genius, understands that grades are not a true reflection of how smart or dumb a person is:

Bad test grades do not mean you are dumb, and I am not in trouble. (p. 49)

Since Nora knows this to be true, she intentionally earned bad grades as part of her plan to prove it to him and to raise his self-esteem.

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