Roaring Fork School District continues to plan how to get students back on track
COVID-19 conditions factored into learning success of students over past year
Technology came in handy when in-person classes were not being held or students had to quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure.
But, because of the inconsistency the pandemic created for learning environments, Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Rob Stein said the district continues to assess the impacts that had on student learning and to figure out ways to keep them on track.
“We’re seeing a little bit higher failure rates in our high school classes,” Stein said. “So, we’re concerned about kids passing, especially graduation requirements (and) core courses. We think the higher failure rate is due to pandemic conditions,” Stein said.
The plan the district is devising will go past possible summer school options and into the fall curriculum, he said.
Due to teacher and student burnout from this past year, Stein said the district feels that it is important to offer a break during the summer months rather than have the kids work even harder to be caught up by the beginning of the next school year.
“I know a lot of teachers need and deserve a break this summer. I won’t be surprised if some of them say, ‘no, I can’t take on a summer program,’” Stein said.
Complications with internet access and motivation hindered the virtual learning process for students, he acknowledged. But, depending on the overall stress of the household, other factors made it more challenging for learning to take place this year, he said.
“We know our older students are feeling more pressure to work, to bring in family income because their families are stressed financially …,” Stein said.
There were also students who had difficulties with classes not being in-person, depending on their learning style.
“I also know that a fraction of our distance learning students did not really engage well in distance learning. Initially that was about 15% of our kids,” Stein said of those who opted for remote learning this school year.
The expectation is that graduation rates will be affected, but within the high schools Stein said students at lower grades are also being prioritized so that setbacks they’ve experienced don’t follow them throughout their entire high school careers.
“We’re really concerned about larger numbers of students who have not been successful in school this year, like in ninth and 10th grade. So, a lot of our plans that we’re focusing on are about catching those kids up so they don’t stay behind as they enter 10, 11,12th grade,” Stein said.
The district is still determining what summer programs will be offered this year and how to minimize the long-term effects on student achievement.
At the very minimum, high school courses are likely to be offered for students over the summer, Stein said.
“Because we did that last summer with a hybrid of online learning courses augmented by a teacher advocate … to keep them on track and provide additional support,” Stein said.
“We haven’t determined our model, but that’s very doable and I’m pretty confident we’ll do some of that,” he said.
Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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