Distance learning causes a ripple of low grades

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Samantha Kosman

A student is overwhelmed with schoolwork as their desk fills with failed assignments.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, school, as we know it, has turned into distance learning for students across the world. 

Distance learning has been a learning process for everyone as we learn to navigate through these new challenges. Many students are finding themselves falling behind in their classes because of the hardships of online learning. 

The number of students failing at least one of their classes in the Sequoia Union School District has rapidly increased because of the pandemic, causing concerns from students, parents, and administrators.

According to the Mercury News, the Sequoia Union High School District reported that the percentage of students with more than one failing grade during the first quarter jumped to 29% from 19.7% in 2019, which is nearly a 50% increase.  

Additionally, distance learning has created a large gap in the amount of education the students truly understand and learn.  

Researchers at Stanford University used NWEA test scores for students in 17 states and the District of Columbia and reached an alarming conclusion. The report estimated that the average student had lost about a third of a year compared to a full year’s worth of learning in reading, and around three-quarters of a year to more than a year in math since schools closed in March 2020, the report estimated. 

Along with the educational struggles that have arisen from distance learning, many mental health issues have been exacerbated, significantly impacting students’ progress in school. 

“Overall, more students are really feeling increased anxiety, increased depression, and reduced motivation, and all those things filtered in are impacting what they’re supposed to be doing for school,” said Elda Aghazarian, a school psychologist. “Many of these students have been capable prior to the pandemic, but now I’m seeing a number of students who are experiencing more mental health challenges than before.” 

Numerous aspects of distance learning affect students’ ability to perform at their full potential, including stable internet connection, a good workspace, establishing student-teacher relationships, and more. As distance learning continued into the second semester, many of these concerns heightened. 

“It’s been difficult because it’s harder to connect with teachers and students through a screen,” said Noel Lim, a sophomore. “Oftentimes, I feel like I’m misinterpreted because I don’t allow myself to really clarify what I’m trying to say or ask because it’s different and more difficult to do so on screen.”

A stable internet connection has been crucial to distance learning, as it’s needed to properly understand the lessons taught online. Many students have struggled with unstable Wi-Fi or technology issues, which can lead students to fall behind in their courses because of the lessons they’ve missed during class.

Isabella Wilson, a junior, said, “Technology issues can have a huge impact on my knowledge of a subject. It can be really difficult to follow a lesson if I’m experiencing connection issues.”

All of these factors lead to a more challenging learning environment for students, which intensifies the need for students to work to stay on track. It’s increasingly more important for students to progress in school while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s super important for students to reach out when they’re in need of support. That is what will truly help them achieve their educational goals,” Aghazarian said.

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