Colorado districts examine ways to help students struggling with remote learning

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — FOX31 continues to look into what students are struggling with amid remote learning. We’ve told you about learning loss among elementary students. Now, we are looking into mental health for high schoolers. It’s a major concern for districts and education leaders alike.

The Douglas County School District is changing its grading scale. The goal is to help students having a hard time adjusting but some feel it may not be the best solution.

The Problem Solvers dug into the new study by the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Education Initiative. It shows that school districts have the same amount of concern about high school mental health currently as they did in the early days of the pandemic. It’s a persistent headache education leaders fear could lead to a bigger problem.

“This is still a significant concern from districts ranging from the southwest part of the state to a northeast part of the state. This not a regional issue, a rural issue or a metro issue,” said Rebecca Holmes, Colorado Education Initiative CEO. “Couple that with disengagement from online learning and what we know about course failure rates — the rate at which students are not passing — that is skyrocketing most high schools. It really could lead to a significant dropout crisis for this state. I think this will need to be a statewide focus for the next 12-18 months at least.”

The Douglas County School District is changing the grading scale for high schoolers to address the disconnect.

“You have to understand the hardships of students, hardships of parents and the hardships of teachers and then do your best to respond. I think there is instructional strategies, technology strategies, and obviously grading strategies and we’re not alone. There are a lot of great things happening at the individual classroom level, at the district level and we also have similarities in all of our school districts,” said Corey Wise, the interim superintendent for DCSD.

Some parents feel the move sends the wrong message to students about life expectations.

“I’m worried about those kids too. I mean, it’s concerning for the kids at the top and bottom of the scale. But I think lowering the bar is not the solution for our kids’ future. I think we need to look at how to get our kids back in school because obviously, we didn’t have to this when they were in school,” said Jodie, the parent of a senior in Douglas County.

The district said it did take that concern into consideration but made its decision with students, parents and teachers doing the grading in mind.

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