Amidst remote learning, students’ grades diverge

Vasu Dar, Correspondent

District 203 started the school year fully remote because of the risks COVID-19 exposure posed to students and staff, adhering to CDC guidelines. A few months into the transition, data showed that there was a larger disparity between the highest and lowest grades. 

Jackie Thornton, Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction at Naperville Central, explained that though some students are thriving in this remote learning environment, others are struggling.

“We have more A’s than we had last year,” Thornton said. “But we also have more D’s and F’s.”

Thornton explained that students with poor performance right now may struggle to meet more rigorous standards down the line when learning return to normal.

“There are definitely students who are struggling because of this pandemic,” Spanish teacher Jennie Franta said. “The frustration on my end is when I don’t know why a student is struggling.”

Some teachers suspect that part of this  is due to a lack of communication.

”Some students are afraid to ask for help on Zoom,” Franta said.

She went on to explain how communication is essential in getting students the help they need.

“Communicate. I think the most important thing is if you need help, get in contact with your teacher,” Franta said.

Franta expressed worry that students who are struggling might not reach out for help because they don’t think the teachers care.

“We do care,” Franta said. “We want students to do well but teachers are overwhelmed. We are trying. Reach out to the teacher because it’s not that we don’t care and it’s not that we don’t want to help but we are really inundated with stuff right now.”

Hans Mueshler, a physics teacher, gave another take on why some students were struggling.

“Some students don’t interact much over Zoom,” Mueshler said. “This very well may likely have impacted their grades. I am here in my office hours for them.”

There are several ways these struggling students can get help, one of them being actually coming to school.

“Struggling students have access to the in building resources including our teachers and the student service support team,” Thornton said.

This seems to be helping students as, ever since November, student performance has trended positively.

“Since grades were posted in November, we have seen a lot of progress, and the number of students who’ve been getting D’s or F’s has steadily been decreasing,” Thornton said. “There is an herculean effort happening now on behalf of our faculty and staff to support all of our students.”

Though performance has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, this is definitely a promising sign for the future when kids come back to school. 

Thornton had a message for students who were still struggling.

“Engage,” Thornton said.  “Your teachers are offering you many opportunities. You simply have to take advantage of these opportunities.”