Does high attendance during distance learning mean students are engaged and doing well? Some parents in the Sweetwater Union High School District say no, and in fact, they say the attendance rates back up their opinion that distance learning is not working.
Even though attendance was high overall in the district, more students received grades of Ds and Fs.
“They might be logging on as present, but they’re really not engaged and they’re not learning,” said Vania Defrates, a parent of a student at Mar Vista High school and the secretary of the school’s Parent, Teacher, Student Association. “They’re doing other things, they have their laptops, they have their phones, they’re not focused.”
District spokesperson Manny Rubio said, “For us, attendance isn’t just logging in, attendance means engagement.”
He said that means attendance is based on, for example, contact with teachers during office hours, and turning in required assignments.
“For us, the fact the attendance rates are what they are, I think is a really big positive for us. It says a lot about what we’re doing for students.” Rubio said the issue of more D and F grades during distance learning is one facing many districts across the county and state. He said districts are doing their best to adjust and accommodate the situation.
In 2019, students were in class face-to-face with their teachers. In 2020, they are doing distance learning. District data compared both years through November 25. At the district's 10 middle school campuses, the attendance rate was a little more than 97% overall in 2019. During distance learning in 2020, attendance was down, but only slightly. Despite the overall high attendance in middle schools, there were more grades of Ds and Fs for students during distance learning than during in-person instruction, an almost 87% increase.
Photos: Attendance High Overall at SUHSD, But Grades Are Not
“It should never have continued this long,” said parent Lara Urig who has a son in middle school. "It’s just not the best environment for kids to learn and perform.”
At the 11 high school campuses, attendance was almost 97% in 2019 during in-person instruction. In 2020, during distance learning, it was down, but only slightly. Again, despite the overall high attendance in high schools, there were more grades Ds and Fs for students during distance learning than during in-person instruction.