The results are in for Virginia’s largest school system, Fairfax, and they aren’t pretty.
The number of ‘F’ grades have spiked an astounding 83% year over year, according to a new study from the Office of Research and Strategic Improvement.
Last year, F’s made up around 6% of all grades and that number nearly doubled, sending shockwaves through the state and now the bad news is receiving national attention.
Even more disturbing than the overall increase, students with disabilities are being harmed the most. Here are a few details from the study:
The analyses indicated that the percentage of students with 2 or more unsatisfactory marks at the end of Q1 increased in SY 2020-21 for all student groups when compared to SY 2019-20 Q1 marks.
Overall, F marks increased from 6 percent of the all marks to 11 percent of all marks, an 83 percent increase.
The amount of increase among racial/ethnic, gender, and other student groups was highest among Students with Disabilities (111 percent increase), and English learner (106 percent increase) students and lowest among Black (63 percent increase) and White students (67 percent increase).
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.
Organizers of the study noted the increase was seen in all groups and categories across the board, and that it’s very “concerning” on many levels.
“The trend of more failing marks is concerning across the board but is especially concerning for the groups that showed the biggest unpredicted increases, namely our English learner students and students with disabilities.
According to the Washington Post, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand issued this response via statement by saying they’re “working as swiftly as possible to repair the damage.” The Post also noted that he said the students who normally perform well have continued that trend, but students who struggle have seen increased struggles.
“We are working on identifying these students by name and by need and are working on specific interventions to support them right now and as we phase back in person,” he said.
The decision to close schools and keep many of them closed has been met with resistance, as experts have said schools are a low risk environment, given the nature of the virus. Health officials have said repeatedly they should be last to close.
Yet, local governments have rushed to close them down. The impact on children is not yet known but many are feeling it could be disastrous.
These aren’t just drops in grades. The results are “unprecedented” according to the report in the Post.
Comparing grades achieved in past years to grades this year showed that the drop in good grades is significant and unprecedented. The likelihood of passing an English class decreased by 40 percent this year for all students, according to the analysis, while the likelihood of passing mathematics decreased by 30 percent.
The report concludes that, overall, “the effect of [this] school year was negative, indicating that the probability of passing a course decreased in … 2020-21 as compared to other years.”
It also showed that student achievement is seriously off-track in mathematics and English, the two course subjects studied, from what would have been expected based on past performance. According to the analysis, 35 percent of all Fairfax students are underperforming in math and 39 percent are underperforming in English.
Continue to pray for all impacted by these closures, for those making the decisions, and that ultimately wisdom prevails over fear.