How are students faring? A report card update.

How are District 214 students faring, after two quarters of remote learning?

That’s hard to say, in any precise fashion; we’ll know more when standardized testing resumes.  For the moment, via a FOIA request, I have student grades, or, rather, a report of the percentage of students, by class and school, who received a D or F for the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year.

Is this precise?  Of course it doesn’t capture students dropping from an A to a C, for instance, nor does it identify whether a student has a D OR an F.  What’s more, we can’t tell to what extent teachers have adjusted their grading scale due to the unusual circumstances.  (At the virtual open house after school started, one of my son’s teachers did state that AP classes were just as rigorous as in the past, in order to prepare students for the test, but that it was his belief that teachers in other classes were dropping topics from the curriculum due to the shortened instructional time.)

Having said that, here’s my analysis, in three tables:

First totals across all subjects, by school, for Q1 of the 2019 – 2020 and 2020 – 2021 academic years.

Here’s the same information in graphical form:

Not surprisingly, these D/F rates follow a pattern that’s similar to the correspondence to poverty rate from my prior article.

Second, here are rates by department for selected subjects.  Note that “technology” refers to classes such as Project Lead the Way, Graphic Design, and Automotive Tech.  These increases in D/F rates were by far the worst among the departments.

As an incidental note, another class that sticks out as having an extremely high D/F rate is AVID, an organizational skills/study skills class for certain at-risk, high-potential kids:  at Wheeling, 49% of AVID 1 students had a D or F, compared to 36% last year; at Meadows, 46% vs. 16% (these are the only two schools offering the program).

What about core classes?  Here are two sets of classes, split out (as best as possible) among honors, “regular” and the lower-level class:

The numbers largely speak for themselves, though one curious item was that there were, in total, fewer students enrolled in the lower level of these core classes.  (Disclosure: there was a certain amount of guesswork in identifying these classes as neither the class titles nor the descriptions in the Academic Handbook describe them as such; for the most part.)  In some cases, a high school did not even offer the lower level class (or omitted it from this grade report), or ceased to offer it this year.

Finally, to be honest with the data, there are classes in which D/F rates dropped from last to this year.  To select a few:  College Accounting at Buffalo Grove went from 16% D/F to 9%.  Elk Grove’s Honors World Literature students went from a 12% rate to only 7%.   Hersey Geometry students (04720) dropped from 10% D/Fs, to 4%.  Prospect’s AP US History students dropped from 3% to 1%.   There’s no apparent pattern that I can discern.  (Some parents have suggested that the level of cheating has increased due to remote learning; perhaps teachers are also adjusting their grading to remove penalties for later work.)

What conclusions should be drawn from these statistics?  This is, to a degree, as my old statistics books would say, “an exercise left to the reader.”


student report card, from Creative Commons license.

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