During her winter break, English teacher Keara Williams has hit the phone, making call after call determinedly trying to make contact with her students and their parents.
She needs to reach 28 students, including 11 seniors, who received an “incomplete” grade at the end of the fall semester. She tells them they will fail her class if they don’t complete make-up work to raise their grade to at least a D by the end of January. There is still time to get the work done, do not give up, Williams says. And she lets them know that she is here for them — all winter vacation if that’s what it takes to avoid an F.
She has reached 13 students and left messages and emails with the others. But when she last checked her computer, only one had signed in online to look at the make-up work.
Williams, like so many teachers in the Los Angeles school district, is grappling with wrenching grading decisions amid the hardships of the raging pandemic that has shuttered campuses for nine months. An F grade in a required class would delay or deny a high school diploma, require a make-up class and could ruin a GPA during the college admissions cycle. How do they balance compassion and empathy with the low grade points in their record books? How do they find and engage their lost students before it’s too late? The magnitude of work ahead for both teachers and students feels overwhelming, many said.
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