As the Monona Grove School District continues to move students from a virtual learning model into a hybrid in-person model, district officials have released information on how students are performing academically during the transition.
At a Feb. 10 school board meeting, the superintendent’s report included a break-down of failing and passing grades at two district schools.
So far in the 2020-21 school year, 267 failing grades have been received at Monona Grove High School (MGHS), which calculates out to around 3.5% of all grades received by high school students being F grades.
Compare that to the 2019-20 school year, when only 103 failing grades were given out at the high school.
At Glacial Drumlin School, which houses grades six to eight, 261 failing grades have been received by students so far this year. In the previous academic year, only 68 failing grades were reported at Glacial Drumlin, meaning 193 more F grades have been given out this year.
Monona Grove Director of Instruction Lisa Heipp said the sharp increase in failing grades across the district is likely due to the stress students are under as they undergo learning amid a pandemic.
“One of the main contributors, of course, is the stress and the upheaval to our normal ways of life that we’re experiencing in living through a pandemic. This is very difficult for everyone and this is hard for students to sustain that level of motivation to continue to do well, and teachers are using new tools, new tricks, new ways of getting students to share their thoughts and ideas,” Heipp said. “Everybody is working diligently and trying to find ways to create an atmosphere where students are able to do their best learning in a very challenging environment.”
School Board Member Elizabeth Cook said that while the numbers may look bad, it’s important to note that 267 failing grades does not necessarily mean 267 separate students are failing, but possibly that specific students are receiving multiple failing grades.
“It makes a difference, particularly when we’re talking about this topic and you see a number like 200, I think it’s important for us to note [for example] I as an individual could be holding five or six of those,” Cook said. “So thinking about the percentage of students who are failing makes a difference in how we think about the numbers and the relative success that some of our students on the margins are finding or not finding.”
Heipp echoed that.
“It doesn’t mean 230-some [different] students are struggling, some students just across the board are receiving multiple Fs,” said Heipp.
On the flip side, the percentage of students receiving “A” grades has also increased. So far this year, 4,100 “A” grades have been distributed at MGHS, a number up 91 from the 2019-20 academic year.
At Glacial Drumlin, 3,561 “A” grades were distributed to grades six through eight, up 79 from last year.