ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–Some Upstate school districts said they are doing everything they can to meet students where they are, to achieve academic success, although things look much different this year.
The Fall semester will soon come to an end, but how are Upstate students managing their studies amid the pandemic?
“We have twice as many failing grades as we did last year in elementary, and about the same in high school, about twice as many. Our really tough group we were looking at, is middle school 6th-8th grades, and in those students, we had three times as many students failing this year, as we did last year,” said Anna Baldwin, Director of E-Learning and Integration for Anderson School District Five.
Data shows during first quarter, there were 1,740 failing grades in elementary schools, compared to the 880 last year.
In middle school, there were more than 2,876 failing grades in the first nine weeks this year, verses 1,027 in the same timeframe last year.
Data also shows for high schools, there were 2,194 failing grades this first quarter, and 1,111 last year.
Graphs released to 7-News’ also showed 1,231 failing grades for elementary school, came from virtual students. Out of the 2,876 failing grades in middle school, 1,907 came from the virtual students. Out of 2,194 from high school, 1,295 came from their virtual students.
However, the district has put systems in place for student success.
“Looking at that and then developing interventions that we could, to work with those students especially those that are virtually. A lot of those came from our virtual students. And working with them to try to get them engaged in the content and in the curriculum and keep them on track and on pace,'” Baldwin said.
Anderson School District Five has worked directly with families to make sure students are where they need to be. Right now, students are taking “Measure of academic progress” testing (also known as MAP), to help the district pinpoint deficiencies.
“So all of our students, our virtual students and our face-to-face students, are taking the MAP assessment and I feel like we are pretty much on target with pacing, as far as what students have covered since we started school on September the 8th. And both our virtual and face to face students seem to be on pace with our pacing guide in Anderson Five and what we need to cover,” Baldwin said.
In terms of failing grades, the School District of Pickens County said they don’t have the data district-wide. However, the district said in terms of future standardized testing, they are not as prepared as they would be in a normal year.
“It’s hard to say in turns of if you want raw data in terms of testing, that hasn’t been happening and it’s a good thing it really hasn’t been happening because that’s nothing something that our students need to deal with right now. But we think we’re in a good spot if you compared us to I think a lot of other districts around the country and around the state,” said John Eby, Coordinator of Communications for School District of Pickens County. “I think our students are in about as good shape as they can be given what we’ve been through, but you still have to put it into perspective. And that perspective is that trying to compare this year to a normal year is comparing apples to oranges,” he said.
7-News also asked Anderson School District Three, how they’ve been doing and they said the following:
“School administrators have consistently tracked students grades. If students were falling behind or not being successful in the virtual setting, admin. contacted parents and addressed this. Most times when students were asked to return to the classroom, they were immediately successful and improved. As for failing grades, before we asked students to come back that were not being successful on virtual some were struggling, and most of these cases resulted in student grades being pulled up upon return,” said Dylan McCullough, Coordinator of Marketing & Communications for Anderson School District 3. “So I would say generally speaking, we have not seen an increase in failing grades this year. What we know for sure: students learn better in the face-to-face setting and this is what we are hoping to return to as soon as possible,” McCullough added.
The districts said during the pandemic, they are capitalizing on building relationships with students, to ensure they meet academic growth.
“Our teachers are really working hard. They have small groups of students that they’re working with, so I think they are able to be successful,” Baldwin said. “Are we where we would be if we were face-to-face that entire time? No we’re not, but I don’t feel stressed or worried that we are way behind and I think we are working hard and diligently to get our students where they need to be in order for them to be successful academically,” she added. “I wouldn’t say we’re falling behind. I would say we have a little bit of catch up to do with a certain group of students that we hope will happen over the next few months when we get the students back in a face to face environment.”
“We’re going to get to the end of this and we’re going to find out where as a whole district we are, in terms of standardized scores last year to this year, but right now, it’s let each teacher meet each child where they are,” Eby said.
Anderson School District Five said 1,434 students who are currently in the virtual academy, will return back to in-person in February. The district believes this will help students even more.