by Kenneth Rosa | staff writer
Districts across the state are seeing a record number of students failing in more than one class both virtually and on campus.
“We pulled a report about a week ago that showed us all students that failed one or more classes and that was just everybody. But I do think that a larger portion of students that are failing are virtual, and they are failing not just one but they are failing two or three or four classes and so we are seeing a large number of students virtually that are really struggling,” assistant principal Sara Moseley said.
And student failures are not just relegated to core classes.
“It can be anything, I have students failing in classes like autotech…it really is a lot of different things but then grades are kind of a moving target, like when your teachers update or you guys take a larger quiz that has more points, the grades are continually changing. But when you look at someone who has easily a 50% that’s concerning, because that is not just one assignment that’s kind of a continual problem,” Moseley said.
There are many possible factors involved in the reason why students might be failing these courses.
“I think virtual students, it’s such a rough year and there’s so many different reasons for kids who are virtual to be having problems, first and foremost they could not have the technology. Or they have it and they are sharing with siblings or they couldn’t get it to work,” Moseley said. “That then moves them to asynchronous learning which is never a good option because you’re not given that live instruction and your not able to enter questions into chat or look at the examples and so some kids are asynchronous and they are not really watching the videos that we do post, they’re just trying to get the work done.”
There are more factors to consider for the reason why students are failing.
“Another thing is that I’ve gone into classes, like I observe a lot of classes, kids would have their cameras up on the ceiling or they won’t have their cameras on. Are they sitting there? You don’t know if they are just texting or they could be gaming,” Moseley said. “I can tell by just looking at your face that you’re confused or that maybe you’re chatting too much with your friends, and that’s really hard to do if students are virtual or and they don’t even have their cameras on or they are trying to complete this asynchronously.”
More concern is placed on freshmen as they may not be completely prepared for the shift to high school.
“The freshmen is where I am really concerned because of course the COVID started when they were 8th graders and 8th grade to 9th grade is a big bump; a lot more responsibility, more classes, kids are trying those honors courses, and the workload,” Moseley said. “So I’m more concerned about the freshman because they’ve never experienced high school and it’s much harder to start biology. These are huge EOC courses so of course there are I think much harder and they move very quickly so that we can meet all the standards the state requires.”
The problem being with students who are still in virtual learning is that there isn’t any physical one-on-one interaction between students and teachers.
“When you think of kids on a good day, they are not just the ones that just raise their hands and say ‘I don’t get it,’ even in the classroom studying you might go up quietly and talk to a teacher and if you are sitting virtually they might put it in a chat but really missing that personal piece is really what I think is the largest problem with virtual learning right now,” Moseley said.
The campus is taking action to notify the families of the students failing, and are trying to assist students in raising their grades.
“First and foremost in communication with the parents at all times, and students through Google Classroom through Mr. Comalander’s emails to parents that bring them information about upcoming dates,” Moseley said. “I require our teachers to have a minimum of three days of tutoring. They have a lot of meetings, but no matter what there are always biology class, always a geometry class before or after school for tutoring specifically one-on-one.”
The campus is even offering students more resources to help increase their grade for the course they are failing.
“Usually credit protection is something we would offer in the first nine weeks. So let’s say you had a fifty or a sixty and we want to kinda bring it up so we have a good chance of averaging out your two quarters and we want you to get to that seventy when you get to the semester,” Moseley said. “So usually credit protection is only offered to students within a 60-69 and teachers can offer this anytime.”
On the other hand there are some things already in place that some students aren’t taking advantage of.
“The one piece that I find a little more concerning is that the district went to the state asking them for this different type of schedule where we have asynchronous time and learning at the beginning and the end of the day and students really are not taking advantage of that,” Moseley said. “So the state thinks that students are really working from 9:00 to 9:50 on class when they are struggling and going to tutoring and going to zoom or in-person and again 3:25 to 4:30 and we just aren’t seeing the numbers of students doing that.
The campus is working with teachers and counselors to assist students failing.
“If any student is failing it’s a requirement that we contact them and the counselors and the administrators if they are behind on attendance which is a little weird this year – you’re either in person you’re this,” Moseley said. “We really do try to speak with kids one-one-one and we try to support them we give them the idea that we can do this we just need to put the work in and its salvageable it’s not too late ideally we’d love to have you here because we find that most kids are more successful in-person.”
The campus is also following the recent guidelines made by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
“Right now we are sending out letters that are going out to parents and this is a new mandate from TEA that we can ask and require students to come back that are failing and they are virtual and so letters they are going to specific students, telling parents “Hey your student is failing two or more classes,” Moseley said. “We really think they could be successful here on campus because we’ve also found that when kids come back from virtual their grades increase and their performance increases when they come back in-person.”
However, the campus believes that there could be some potential fallouts.
“But the fallout is going to be hopefully that we can recover students over the summer through Achieve but a larger concern is we are going to have to complete credits and that might mean that you are retaking an English class to try to graduate in four years but you can still graduate in 5 years and COVID might cause that to happen where we might see some doubling up of classes in the following year when we finally get kids in person and can be successful because they are with us,” Moseley said.
The campus is hopeful in the ability of the students who are failing to make sure they do what they need to in order to raise their grades.
“I’m hopeful because we’re Northeast and I really do think that they are already thinking ahead there’s nothing in place yet but I’m hoping they put in place maybe some enrichment programs that if you fell between this grade and this grade maybe offering some smaller program while you’re still are going to school,” Moseley said.