Vista Unified School District

Ugly Progress Report: Vista High Students Get High Number of D's, F's

Six-week progress report shows a dramatic increase in lower grades, with many parents blaming the virtual-learning model

NBC Universal, Inc.

There has been a significant increase in the number D’s and F’s given to high school students in the Vista Unified School District, according to charts obtained by NBC 7.

The district is compelled to post the charts 72 hours before its next board meeting, which will take place on Thursday.

Superintendent Matt Doyle is advising people not to take the numbers out of context, because they are not final grades but are, rather, a progress report.

“These are not grades, these are progress-report data as of the end of October," ,” said Doyle in an email to NBC 7. "Official grades are not submitted until January."

The charts show there were more than 2,000 D’s and more than 6,000 F’s given to high school students over the eight-week period. There were just under 2,000 D’s, and just over 2,000 F’s given during the same time period last year, and even fewer for the 2018-19 school year.

A chart titled Students With 50% or More F’s Districtwide shows the current number at 20.7%, compared with 3.9% last year. A chart title Students With 50% or More F’s By Learning Model shows 19.1% under Classic, and 22.3% under Virtual.

Vista Unified currently offers parents the choice of virtual learning or in-class learning, which is known as the Classic model.

While the superintendent said there was not enough data to draw any conclusions from the learning models, many parents are blaming virtual learning for the drastic increase in D’s and F’s.

“It’s heart-wrenching to have your students go from straight A’s to F’s in all of six months,” parent Saffron Camacho said.

Camacho has 14-year old twins who attend Rancho Buena Vista High School. She said virtual learning impacted her children both academically and emotionally.

“My daughter just totally tanked," Camacho told NBC7. "I saw her giving up, not being excited, not engaging with anyone.”

But once in-class learning -- the Classic model -- reopened on Oct. 20,  Camacho chose Classic and her daughter’s grades changed for the better.

“Here we are four weeks into it, and my daughter showed me her report card on Friday with straight A’s,” Camacho said.

But the story hasn’t been as positive for other parents. Amy Waldrop’s 17-year-old son attends Mission Vista High School. She also has a daughter in middle school.

“The kids are struggling," Waldrop said. "My kids don’t like the virtual school. They’re having a hard time."

Like Camacho, Waldrop also chose the Classic model when she had the option. But just days after reopening, Mission Vista closed when a second student tested positive for COVID-19. Vista High School also remains closed for in-class learning because of coronavirus concerns.

The developments over the past several weeks have caused conflict between parents, the district and the teachers' union.

While parents like Waldrop said schools should reopen for in-class learning. the president of the teachers' union said some teachers see as many as 300 kids and, at times, it’s just not safe.

There are currently 22 students in the district who have tested positive for COVID-19 since Oct. 20. At Mission Vista, hundreds of students and more than a dozen teachers were quarantined.

“We have hundreds of kids who are out on quarantine, we have teachers who are out, we have schools that are supposed to be open that are closed," said Keri Avila of the Vista Teachers Association. "We want to go back -- we just want it safe for all students and all teachers."

Avila said she’s not surprised with the progress report since a totally new learning model was introduced.

“We all want to get back to the classroom," Avila said. "We try to work with the district to try to come up with solutions, to come up with a plan that keeps our schools open sustainably."

The progress report will be discussed at the next board meeting, on Thursday.

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