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Third-quarter grades show improvement for Carroll County students, who are still 5 times as likely to receive an F as last year

The number of Carroll County Public Schools students who received at least one failing grade during the third quarter dropped by hundreds in comparison with the previous quarter. And three-fourths of students who received no failing grades were learning in person.

“As you look more granularly, you will also notice the quantity of students who received two, three or four or more failing grades has also decreased,” Jason Anderson, chief academic, equity and accountability officer, said in an email. “These data illustrate our students who were failing multiple courses the first two quarters of the year are now performing better overall, as there are fewer students with two or more failing grades.”

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Still, while the trend of failing grades has improved through the school year, more than 10% of the student population received at least one F, some five times more than during the same marking period last year.

The number of F’s given to students were significantly higher in the first quarter of this school year as compared with last year. That was generally blamed on an adjusted learning environment caused by the pandemic. However, students received fewer F’s as more students returned to the classroom, according to the data provided by CCPS.

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The third marking period lasted from Feb. 2 through April 9. The Carroll County Board of Education voted to allow students to return to in-person classes at least four days a week on Feb. 10 with all students were phased in by March 22. The school reported earlier this month that three out of four students were learning in person.

The number of students who received at least one failing grade in the second quarter increased by nearly 400 compared with the first quarter, but more than tripled compared with the second quarter of last year.

The number of students who received at least one F during the third quarter decreased by 431 students compared with the second quarter, but it’s still more than five times higher than the third quarter last year, with 2,915 this year and 544 students during the third quarter last year.

During the third quarter, 88.1% of the student population received zero F’s. Of those students, 74% were in-person learners. Only 2.4% of the student population received four or more F’s. Of those students, 58.6% were in-person learners.

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“While there is probably some variability here, I do believe that the key reason for improvement is in-person learning,” Superintendent Steve Lockard said in an email. “The 3rd quarter represented the most significant amount and most consistent amount of in-person learning this year, including several weeks of 4 days a week in-person learning. We know that this has been incredibly helpful to students who have struggled virtually, and certainly hope to continue to build on that consistency and getting back to a more normal routine of school. "

Students who qualify for free and reduced meals were nearly half of the population who received at least one F. Most of that population were high school students and most were learning in person. Special education students made up 17.5% of those receiving at least one F and 1.9% are English learners.

When it comes to race and ethnicity, 6.8% of those who received at least one F were Black. Black students are 4% of the school’s population. Hispanic or Latinx students made up 10.9% of those with at least one F. They are 7% of the student population.

The data showed 96% of elementary students received zero F’s and 82.5% of that population were learning in-person. On the middle school level, 81.8% did not receive any failing grades and 72.3% were learning in person. On the high school level, 81.1% received zero failing grades and 61.3% of those students were learning in person.

The school system has been working on an academic recovery plan for the past couple months. During last week’s board meeting, school officials briefed school board members on its plans, which involved summer learning and an outdoor enrichment for English Learners.

Anderson said during the meeting that the grade data helped identify the thousands of students who would qualify for recovery.

Academic recovery could last between 12 and 18 months. Lockard said the goal is for grades to return to where they were prior to the pandemic, but noted how much students had to go through. And mentioned “incredible jobs” teachers, administrators and support staff have done under the circumstances.

“I don’t know that you can just make that up in a summer, or even in a semester,” he said about pre-pandemic grades. “But we plan on continuing to give our students everything we have and many opportunities as we work to support not only their achievement, but their overall well-being.”

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