Experiencing downgrades

Differences in the school year contribute to lower student performance

Sophomore Alexes Howson checks Skyward at the end of the first quarter to see failing grades. She now knows it’s time to convince her parents to let her go back to school in person. If not, her grades may never get better.

However, Howson’s struggle is not just her own. Many students have faced the same struggles with grades.

School counselor Tricia Bender believes that many kids are failing because they have never had to be responsible for completing their work, since that used to be the job of the teachers.

“One thing I’ve found is (schoolwork) is overwhelming,” Bender said. “And once it’s overwhelming, then that motivation to move on is the biggest thing that we’ve had to tackle.”

Howson specifically struggled with this when she started virtual at the beginning of the year to keep her high-risk mother safe.

“(It was difficult) to try and keep up with all the assignments and not really learning anything in classes,” Howson said.

Due to her grades, Howson switched to the hybrid schedule to help improve them.

Switching has helped some classes but not all because Howson is still failing some.

“Geometry, I’m completely failing,” Howson said.

This time last year, she was doing substantially better. In fact, she had straight As and Bs.

This sudden difference in grades is not unique to Howson. Teachers have noticed this difference across the board.

According to English teacher Jacob Fritz, the majority of his students are failing his class.

“Three-fourths of them (are failing) easily,” Fritz said.

In past years, Fritz has taken every failing grade in his class personally, and this many of them doesn’t make him feel good.

“It does not make me feel like a good teacher,” Fritz said. “It does not make me feel successful.”

Bender says that no matter how overwhelming this semester may be for teachers and students, students should not give up and always seek help when they need it.
Many of the classes students have been failing are required classes for graduation, though, which poses a concern for class sizes when those students have to retake them.

Director of School Counseling Julie Fierce says that there will be many more summer school and online class opportunities for those students to make those classes up.

Fierce wants to remind everyone that despite the current situation, they should try to think positive.

“Everyone just needs to remember that it’s going to be okay,” Fierce said.