As many localities across the nation launch fresh rounds of COVID-19 restrictions, new data gives striking insight into how severely American school children are being impacted academically by limitations on in-person learning.
A study that analyzed grades in one of the largest school districts in the state shows that students receiving “F” grades increased by 83% as schools grappled with limitations to in-person learning.
Students with disabilities suffered the most, receiving “F” grades at 111%.
“Among middle and high schools students, there was an 83 percent increase in the number of students receiving two or more F marks,” the Office of Research and Strategic Improvement study on Fairfax, Virginia schools, where 186,000 students are enrolled, revealed.
The study examined grades at the end of the first quarter of the school year 2020-21, The Christian Post reports, as compared to grades from the first quarter of 2019-20.
“Overall, F marks increased from 6 percent of the all marks to 11 percent of all marks,” it found.
Students with disabilities were followed up by English learner students, whose “F” grades by 106%.
The study “follows on the heels of concerns locally and at the state and national level that student performance may be lower during the current year, when virtual instruction is prevalent, than in past years when in-person instruction was the norm.”
The natural conclusion was that this increase of failing grades was largely due to classes being conducted in large part via distance learning.
“Nonetheless, all groups showed increases in the percentage of F marks received during Q1 of the current year as compared to the prior year, indicating that more students were failing courses during the (primarily) virtual instruction period than had occurred when instruction was delivered in-person,” the study said.
Even when, as The Washington Post noted, Fairfax teachers were asked to give their students “additional flexibility” on assignment deadlines and allow test retakes to offset the disadvantages of distance learning, one high school teacher was quoted saying that even when he did so, 50 to 70% of his 150 students who had been B and C students previously were D and F students now.