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Moffat County High School students struggling with hybrid learning, grades show

 

Moffat County High School at night. (Max O’Neill / Craig Press)

The challenges of remote instruction has led to lower student grades this academic year at Moffat County High and Craig Middle schools, district officials say. The high school currently has 46 students in credit recovery programs at the alternative school.

Students are encouraged to attend the alternative school when they are a year behind in terms of credits earned. With an 8-to-1 student to teacher ratio and individual goals for each student to reach graduation, the alternative school can help provide more individual student instruction and guidance.

“So often those kids stay until they graduate or stay until they get caught up with their peers, whichever comes first. So, right now we have 46 kids and we’ve probably placed 20 new kids this year,” MCHS principal Sarah Hepworth said. “We generally don’t place freshmen, so those are sophomores, juniors and seniors that were behind.”



Freshmen typically struggle the most in adjusting to high school life and succeeding in classes. Pandemic or not, that continues to be true this year, Hepworth said.

“They have intense rigor and now it counts for credit towards graduation. Prior to ninth grade if you screwed up, there wasn’t a long-term consequence,” Hepworth said. “There was the pressure but there is also the management of a 90-minute class and also managing all of those 90-minute classes and the increased rigor of a high school course. So it takes ninth graders a good semester to kind of get used to the independence you have to have. They (also) have advisors that they meet with every day for 30 minutes.”



Lower grades across the board are a big concern for the school district and Superintendent Scott Pankow. The key for the high school though is to keep kids in the school system working toward a high school diploma for as long as possible.

“So, when our kids aren’t in person learning with our teachers and we know how valuable our teachers are in person, it really shows when they are totally remote learning in the MoCo virtual,” Pankow said. “So, that’s probably the biggest concern — trying to recapture and reengage and recapture those students as move forward and get back to in person learning.”

The slow speed with which kids turn in assignments can also contribute to failed classes for MCHS students. This can be attributed to the online learning according to Hepworth. Some students are simply having a difficult time logging in for remote assignments, she added.

“They are the same kids who are struggling (with in-person learning) but it is just so much more dramatic now,” Hepworth said.


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