After a year with lower than usual academic grades, a Carroll County schools official said the system’s summer recovery program gives him hope the upcoming year, which starts Wednesday, will be better.
During some marking periods, the number of failing grades were at least three times higher than in the same quarter of the previous school year. However, Carroll County Public Schools implemented recovery services for more than 4,000 students to get them back on track. And Jason Anderson, chief academics, equity and accountability officer, said it went “extremely well.”
In the 2019-2020 school year, 535 students had at least one failing grade in the fourth quarter. That number jumped to 2,707 students during the fourth quarter of 2020-2021.
According to the data, 47% of students who received at least one F during the fourth quarter were part of the free and reduced meals program, 17% were special education students and 1.7% were English learners.
For race, 7% of the students who received at least one F were Black, 11% were Hispanic and 74% were white students, who make up more than 90% of the CCPS population.
The summer recovery program started in July 12 and lasted until Aug. 6. Anderson said staff will present specifics on how it went to the Board of Education during a work session Sept. 23.
Students attended the summer services five days a week and had 3.5 hours of instruction each day. They were tested at the beginning and end of the program to measure the summer recovery efforts. Students in the English for Speakers of Other Languages program, or ESOL, were identified as a group disproportionately affected by the pandemic in terms of learning. Those in grades 3-8 participated in a two-week, full-day summer outdoor enrichment experience at the Outdoor School.
The recovery effort isn’t over, though, Anderson said. The school system is also offering services in the fall, starting Sept. 28, and extensive learning opportunities in the spring after winter break.
After looking at fourth-quarter grades, Anderson said CCPS staff know kids will need credit recovery beyond the summer including students who may not have been available for the summer services.
“It was illustrated clearly the environment that our students were in over the last 18 months … was a bit challenging for a large number of students,” Anderson said. “I do believe having an opportunity for five days a week this summer in person, face-to-face will illustrate improvement in our students and getting them back on track.”
Attendance also saw a bit of a decline last year. Although still high, the rates were not where they were pre-pandemic school years in Carroll County. According to the state’s Maryland Report Card data, the average attendance for Carroll schools was 95% in 2019 and 94.6% in 2020.
Judy Jones, equity and inclusion officer for CCPS, said the overall attendance for the fourth marking period during the 2020-2021 school year was 92.7%.
Pandemic factors that could have contributed to the lower attendance numbers include change in a new learning environment, parent supervision, access to resources for help and the affect COVID-19 had on certain families, Jones said.
The attendance rate for white students was 93.3%. The rate was 89.5% for Black students, 89.1% for Hispanic or Latino students, 95.57% for Asian students, 93.4% for American Indian/Alaskan Native students, 93.9% for Pacific Islander students, and 89.1% for students who identified as two or more races.
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Students with disabilities had a 89% attendance rate, English learners were at 85.6% and economically disadvantaged students were at 85.2%.