Lockhart ISD joins growing list of school districts seeing decline in students’ grades

Education

LOCKHART, Texas (KXAN) — Lockhart Independent School District reports an 18% increase in failing grades for high school students compared to the same time last year.

In an email to KXAN, spokesperson Christina Courson said last year at this time, Lockhart High School had 11% of students with failing grades. That number has jumped to 29% this year.

“We are not happy about any increase, and we are working to engage those students, provide support and help close the gaps,” Courson said.

No data for middle school was available at the time.

“It’s really hard,” said Tanya Swenson, who is dealing with failing grades for her two virtual learners.

Tanya Swenson says she tries her best to keep her virtual learners on track while she juggles a job as a bus driver and enrolling in classes at Austin Community College. (Photo: Tanya Swenson)

She says both her ninth and fifth grader need to stay online due to heart problems.

“My son usually is… an honor roll student,” she explained. “My daughter, same thing—A/B, honor roll. But right now, the first time I ever saw his grade was at 33, and I was just like…”

Swenson says part of the grade is due to a large number of absences when her son was, in fact, in class. Another large part is due to missing assignments. She says they’re working with campus to sort both issues out.

Courson says Lockhart High School discovered several of its teachers were not following grading guidelines. Some had only entered a couple of daily assignment grades rather than the required one per week.

“At the six-week mark, if students have only had the opportunity to earn two or three grades, they were not provided an opportunity to earn additional grades, unfairly providing greater weight to those few grades—all because some teachers did not comply with the district’s grading policy,” Courson explained.

Derrick David Bryant’s daughter is not in high school, but he believes that’s what happened to her.

Derrick David Bryant says he also experienced teachers marking his daughter as absent, even though she attended all online classes. He says they were able to correct the record with teachers. (Photo: Derrick David Bryant)

“We asked her first of all, ‘Baby girl, why is your grade low? How are things going?'” said Bryant, whose daughter is in seventh grade.

She’s a student athlete who usually scores As across the board but didn’t make the mark on one exam.

“I guess that particular teacher hadn’t given a lot of assignments, so that particular grade was a weighty grade, which kind of brought down her overall grade for that subject,” Bryant explained.

Bryant says they were able to work with teachers on extra assignments to bring her grade back up. Swenson says her son’s teacher has given him until Tuesday to complete missing work.

“It’s not all the teacher’s fault,” Swenson said. “Us as a parent, we need to support our kids show them, ‘hey, you can do this.’ Home school has been around for years, and we just—we’re just being forced to do it right now at the moment.”

“I believe our school district is doing a great job,” he said. “If we continue to perform maintenance on ourselves as far as… that checklist: How are we doing as parents? How are we doing as a school district? I think if we all have patience and work together for the greater good of our students, I think we’ll succeed in the school year.”

Concerns about changing grades

KXAN News first started looking into this issue, because some anonymous teachers reached out to us, believing the district was telling them to change grades and pass failing students.

Courson said campus administrators met with noncompliant teachers on Monday and told them to enter any incomplete information for all students that showed a failing grade “and to make up those required opportunities for students to fairly earn grades.”

Courson said the high school principal also reviewed grading requirements with all staff members on Wednesday.

“What we have asked of our teachers is for students to be graded fairly and in compliance with policies. Most of the teachers at LHS are doing just that, and we are asking those who are not to comply with the policies”

Christina Courson, Lockhart ISD spokesperson

Many high school student athletes are also failing and have become ineligible to perform or compete under UIL rules.

“That is because they are truly failing, not because some of their teachers didn’t comply with the grading guidelines,” Courson said.

However, Courson said those students still have a chance to become eligible once again by improving their grades over the next three weeks, by the nine-week grading mark.

Hays CISD changes grading guidelines

Last week, KXAN reported Hays CISD was seeing total failing rates among its middle and high school students about 30% more compared to the same time last year.

The district has since issued new grading guideline revisions, including:

  • Students now have until the end of the first nine-week grading period to turn in late work.
  • All work turned in late is eligible for full credit.
  • In the second nine-week grading period, the five-day grace period for turning in late work returns, along with a maximum grading cap of 75% credit.

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