ST PAUL, Minn. — Facing a fact that is hard to face is his task right now; nearly 40% of grades for high school students in that district are failing grades.
“The 40% is very high. It’s about double what we might expect in a typical year,” Gothard said.
The grading scale this year, in all distance learning so far for St. Paul High Schools students, is the traditional scale.
Meaning it was designed to grade student performance in a setting where kids are in person, with teachers, in a school, for 180 days a year.
“We are trying to fit a grading process that is very traditional into a very traditional model and we are anything but that right now … it is not an excuse but what it is saying is we have to look at multiple ways that we are ensuring that students are making progress we want them to,” Gothard said.
Meaning something has to get better.
The effort so far has been to have an in person academic help site - it's there and ready for kids, but many just aren't using it.
So they will try to do more like adding virtual support for a student if he, she, or they need it.
And one thing to keep in mind - top of mind for Gothard - is how many of those students are doing nothing, and how many are failing in grades, but trying.
“You will find many students who may be at a legit zero. They may not be able to check in, do any assignments. They may have turned away completely and completely disengaged, and that's tragic and sad. There may be others who just need [a] nudge, a progress report saying you are failing, get your act together, here is what we can do to support you and we will alert your family so they can support. We want you to get on track,” Gothard said.
Gothard says he knows how hard it is to fail as a high school student.
He knows it, personally.
“My message is I have received an F in my life. And I know what it felt like. I know it came with incredible embarrassment. It came with the feeling like failure that I let myself down, my family down,” Gothard recalled.
He says he can't be a part of a system that leads a kid to feel that way and so he has no choice, he and his team, other than the one to find a way to get them to be at their best, do better and at the least just log on.
“I know there might be many who just chalk this up to kids just don't care, they are disengaged. That isn't true at all. I have never met a young person who has said I want to fail, never.”