Virtual Learning Leads to High Failure Rates

MISD Offers Ways to Redeem Credit

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Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

Students working on classwork from home have higher failure rate than in-person learning modes. MISD has offered was for failing students to redeem credit.

The high school failure rate has risen to an all-time high in Texas with 62% of students failing one class and 54% of students failing two or more classes. 

In general, when school administrators offered the option of virtual learning, students who chose online mode of learning lacked the quality work ethic needed to pass. 

“I think students are accustomed to learning, face to face, and be able to ask questions,” Ms. Ketura Madison, the academic associate principal said, “and a teacher can actually be there to monitor that. Even if they [students] don’t have questions, the teacher is there to ask questions to ensure that learning is happening.”

Routined to learning in person, students with a teacher present are more helpful with teaching. Virtual students no longer feel the pressure of a teacher urging them to finish their assignments on time or hear pressing conversations to complete quality work. Madison believes students who do not self-pace themselves pile the assignments up and wait until the last minute before completing them, such as junior Gabby Molina did. She chose to pursue online learning in an effort to keep her mother safe while she fights cancer. However, Molina realizes online learning can be harder than it appeared to be. 

I have a love-hate relationship with online learning. I like that I can wake up later and be here to help my parents and have time with my pets. It is honestly harder though to maintain a good schedule. I have found myself a couple of times staying up until 3 in the morning but then waking up at 8 right before first period ends.”

— Gabby Molina, 11

“I do believe it is easier to fail online. I have done it, and that’s why these six weeks I am trying to better myself,” Molina said. “I am currently finishing assignments that I am missing and it is stressful. There are a lot of distractions at home. Not only that, students who do Edgenuity know it’s harder to learn that way, at least for me, it gets boring watching someone on a screen for a long period of time.”

Molina understands the diversions that come with learning virtually. Students sleep in, attend classes in bed, and take time away to eat or play with family and pets whenever they like. They gain full access to freedom when no teacher tells them what to do unless a parent or guardian keeps watch over them. 

“I have a love-hate relationship with online learning,” Molina said. “I like that I can wake up later and be here to help my parents and have time with my pets. It is honestly harder though to maintain a good schedule. I have found myself a couple of times staying up until 3 in the morning but then waking up at 8 right before first period ends.”

Because of all of the virtual possibilities in place for at-home students, an overwhelming amount of failing grades occurs, especially in Texas. Keeping in mind the chaotic year, Madison along with the rest of the administrative team offered grade redemption that resembles credit recovery to help students like Molina. From there, students will gain a chance to improve their failing grades to pass their on-level classes. Even with the number of failing students, Legacy’s administrative team plans to do everything they can to help offer options to keep the failing to a minimum, which English teacher Gala Arambula has mixed emotions about. 

“I think we had to do something to get those students any hope of passing and not just losing the semester year entirely,” Arambula said, “Thoughts are, I wish we didn’t have to do it [grade redemption]. And I don’t see it as a substitute for what should’ve happened in class.” 

In grade redemption, students who failed the first two-six weeks have the chance to retake their failed course(s) in Edgenuity for a 75. Because Edgenuity doesn’t offer AP or Pre-AP classes on its platform, grade redemption is not offered for Pre-AP and AP courses or elective courses. 

“[I hope] that we will have fewer semester failures. When you are starting to create your schedule for next year or even next semester, there are not things you are going to be able to take because we have to get you that credit, especially if it is a required credit,” Madison said. “We have been in discussions, but we don’t have a plan right now for the Pre-AP. Due to the GPA and the ranking, it causes a lot more controversy than on level.”

Consequently, teacher staffing is determined by the number of incoming students. However, students who failed are not counted for the number of teachers required for the next school year. The more students fail, the more students in classrooms with fewer teachers to accommodate.

“I think students who fail, in general, should have a different track so to speak because obviously, they were not successful with the way things were the first time around,” Arambula said. “And I don’t see much point in repeating what was unsuccessful, but I know we don’t have the resources for that kind of remedial work. But I think they ought to take those [failing] numbers into consideration for staffing. I think it’s wrong not to.”

When fewer students fail the semester, they can take more of the classes that they want as well as free up a teacher’s classroom. Madison hopes that grade redemption will help students stay on track and gives the students back the freedom to choose the courses they want to take, along with relieving the teachers’ added stress. 

“It’s just different,” Madison said. “It doesn’t have the same impact [being virtual]. It hurts my heart to see this [failing] and really this is why we come to school. We come for outcomes. We want to see students succeed.”