Coronado Unified School District is reporting more failing grades for the first semester of this school year compared to recent previous years. School officials say this increase in Ds and Fs has affected all levels of education.
According to data released by the district, in fall 2019, 2% of the Coronado High School student population received F grades over all subjects, while this past 2020 fall semester, 4% of the slightly reduced student population received F grades. D grades in those same two fall semesters went from 4% of all students in 2019 to 5% of students this past fall. It should also be noted that A grades comprised 52% of the student population over all subjects in fall 2019 and went up to 56% of fall 2020 students.
CUSD Senior Director of Learning Dr. Megan Battle believes there are several factors involved, including grading changes during the pandemic.
“When talking with staff, they really attribute it to changes and adjustments they made in how they’re allocating grades and what percentages they’re assigning for what kind of assessments they’re doing,” Battle said. “Overall, we’re glad [the increase is] not in the double digits like we see in some neighboring districts but we still have more students now that we are individually working with for remediation.”
Other school districts in San Diego County are reporting similar trends. In October, the Carlsbad Unified School District reported a 300% spike in F grades compared to last year and Sweetwater Union High School reported an increase in failing grades. This increase is also happening across California, including Long Beach Unified School District, where failing grades doubled during distance learning.
Battle believes that remote learning has posed several challenges for students of all ages.
“We feel like the distance learning platform is not the best platform for all students,” Battle said. “While some have really taken to it and are successful navigating that learning environment, other students who typically don’t struggle are struggling. It could be that their home environment is not as structured, they don’t have access to reliable internet or an adult at home for support.”
Despite this, Battle says the district also takes other data into account, like benchmark assessments, that show some positive news.
“Our formative data is showing students are learning and they are mastering standards throughout the school year,” Battle said.
The full PDF comparison of subjects and grades for first semester 2018, 2019 and 2020 can be found here.
CUSD is planning to use funding from the state to provide free for-credit summer school with academic courses for secondary school students in math, English language arts, and science, in addition to academic enrichment experiences for elementary students. High school students will have the option for grade remediation to earn credits. Elementary students will also have opportunities to come to campus to get extra help in order to start the next school year at grade level. In the meantime, the district is working to provide support to struggling students.
Coronado Schools Foundation will continue to offer its robust fee-based summer course of study for students in the areas of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) and Visual & Performing Arts (VAPA).
“We’re a small district and lucky in the sense that we can reach out individually to students to find out if they need social or emotional support, or if it’s more academic,” Battle said. “So depending on the challenge, we definitely have the counseling and academic support to help our students.”
Battle says she’s hopeful that grades will improve now that the district is transitioning back to in-person classes.
“We’re really just trying to do our best to keep the students engaged on this platform and make their learning experiences when they are on campus engaging as well,” Battle said. We know students have not had that social emotional connection since last March. So students are happy to be back on campus, even if it’s for half a day or a couple days a week and having that interaction with their peers.”