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Health Team

South Carolina school district sees spike in failing grades

Posted November 11, 2020 9:14 a.m. EST
Updated November 11, 2020 9:15 a.m. EST

— Officials in South Carolina's largest school district say the number of students who received an F in at least one class tripled this year, as the district adjusted learning because of the coronavirus pandemic.

First quarter report cards show a little more than 16,000 students in Greenville County Schools had an F. That compares to roughly 5,300 students with at least one failing grade in the first quarter last year, the Greenville News reported.

The coronavirus pandemic has limited in-person teaching for the district's 75,000 students, and Associate Superintendent of Academics Jeff McCoy said that likely was a factor in the jump in Fs. He also cited the stress of the coronavirus pandemic on families and the emergency shutdown of schools in the spring. Still, the district wasn't expecting such a big increase in the number of struggling students.

“It was definitely more Fs than we anticipated,” McCoy said. “Any time kids are failing, it’s a disappointment, and we want to look to see what we can do better.”

A little less than a third of students have opted for the district's virtual program, with the remaining 51,000 or so attending schools in person. Middle and high school students have been attending school two days a week while elementary students have started attending on a traditional five-day-a-week schedule since last week.

McCoy said the report cards show a much larger proportion of virtual students are receiving failing grades compared to in-person students. Many of those virtual students have not been turning in assignments, he said.

Superintendent Burke Royster said he has encouraged teachers to be flexible in allowing students to make up some assignments.

“The grace we need to show is for extra time, not for knowing less, and that’s the approach we’ll take to it,” Royster said.

But Royster said the district would bring students back full time only if it could be done while following health officials’ guidelines.

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