Finding a new normal

November 28, 2022

Wennerberg said the Pass/Fail grade system was important over COVID-19, but has been altered as Park tries to obtain a new normal following the pandemic.

“As we transition back, it’s never going to be the same. It’s a new normal. We should always be striving to do better for our students. There were more grading options because we were in a weird transition (and looking for) what’s best for students. That option had to be there for students that wanted to either choose that option, or maybe that was best for the whole class in some years,” Wennerberg said. “We want to make sure that we’re giving all students the best opportunity as they transition to their next step in their careers. Pass/Fail grades can give a glimpse of something that’s not accurate on transcripts (anymore). We’re trying to transition to something that’s a little bit more accurate.”

Steinberg said that he saw attendance shift over COVID-19, and that Park’s steps toward raising attendance are essential to mitigating the changes during COVID-19.

“Attendance has changed the most (over COVID-19). It seems like kids aren’t attending class as much because they fell into a habit of not signing in during online classes,” Steinberg said. “(Park) has already taken some steps toward trying to get attendance up. If those steps have been working, it can help move us in the right direction. If they haven’t been working, we should focus on trying to make sure kids are going to class. Attendance is important because that’s the way to get kids to continue to learn and make sure that test scores are rising.”

Petta said that focusing on the root cause of decreased attendance will aid Park in re-engaging kids in learning. 

“We’re trying to take a look at if students don’t want to be here, or if they’re here but not going to class. You have to get to the root. You can’t penalize them because they’re not doing what we expect them to do, there’s always a reason behind it,” Petta said. “There are things that happened during COVID-19 for older students. Some had younger siblings, so they’d have to supervise those kids. (Those kids) didn’t get to invest in their education and lost some ground there. A lot of students got jobs during COVID-19 and they decided that making money is better than school. However, it’s usually not a long term sustainable occupation.”

Mueller said that schools need to emphasize the mental health of students and look at them as individual people.

“We need to focus on the safety, health, well-being and mental health of our students. Schools and the state need to have proactive methods in-place before and after school. There has been a real focus on meeting the needs of every student, including academic learning, nutrition, physical care and mental health,” Mueller said. “Finding ways to be proactive and meeting students individually is essential. We are trying to look at students and where they are to move them to where they need to be to meet grade standards.” 

Petta said the pandemic helped people realize what changes need to be made and that those reforms will take time.

“We all have to realize that we went through something historical, not just with COVID-19 but with all the civil unrest and the veil has been pulled back. Many of us are just realizing now all the things that need to happen to make everything more comfortable, including education,” Petta said. “It’s going to take some time, but I look at our youth and I’m so impressed because they’re teaching us and showing us the way. I hope that most of (adults) are open to what they have to offer.

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