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Alpena school board to review in-person learning plans

Data shows fewer A’s, B’s among high schoolers and middleschoolers

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Thunder Bay Junior High School students board buses to transport them home on Friday.

ALPENA — The Alpena Public Schools Board of Education plans to schedule a special board meeting to discuss how Thunder Bay Junior High School and Alpena High School students can have more in-person learning.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 2 on the online conferencing software Zoom.

Superintendent David Rabbideau provided the board of education with data showing students at Thunder Bay Junior High School and Alpena High School are not performing as well as they have in past years and some of their parents may not be highly satisfied with the hybrid learning model.

Students at the junior high and high school attend school as part of a hybrid learning model, where students are split into two cohorts, with each cohort attending school in-person two days a week. The students spend three days a week learning online.

Students in the elementary school attend classes in-person five days a week.

The data shows junior high school and high school students this year are earning fewer A’s and B’s and more D’s and F’s this year than they did last year, and Rabbideau said there is “a significant drop” in the number of A’s awarded at the junior high level.

Approximately 31% of the grades given to junior high students this year were A’s compared to 46% of the grades being A’s last year. Nearly 18% of the grades given to students were B’s this year compared to 25% last year.

During that same time, nearly 11% of the grades given to junior high students this year were D’s compared to 8% last year and 17% of the grades given to junior high students this year were F’s compared to 6% last year.

Data from a recent parent and teacher survey shows about 35% of parents at the junior high are satisfied with their child’s learning model compared to a little over 50% of parents at the high school level and around 64% of parents at the elementary school level.

Both Vice President Stacey Parr and trustee Ned Health voiced concern about the data. Parr said the data from the junior high school was particularly concerning, while Health said he was extremely concerned about the number of students earning D’s and F’s.

He said the hybrid model is not working for some kids.

“I have yet to hear the non-success stories,” he said. “Nobody wants to talk about that, and we have to talk about it because two days a week is not working.”

Nearly 33% of the grades given to high school students this year were A’s compared to 38% last year, while 14% of grades were B’s compared to 23% last year. About 19% of the grades given this year were D’s compared to 13% last year, and 13% of the grades earned this year were F’s compared to 7% last year.

Superintendent Rabbideau recommended the board schedule a special meeting so it could give its full attention to the issue.

Meanwhile, Rabbideau said he is looking for an example of a school district in Michigan that has switched from a hybrid model back to face-to-face instruction five days a week but has not found one.

Rabbideau said the district chose the hybrid learning model for junior high and high school students over the summer as part of its reopening plan required by the state to protect students from COVID-19.

The plan took into account the number of students enrolled in the schools, space to allow for social distancing, the time students would spend on buses, and how many students could fit on a bus at a time.

Rabbideau said the world is different and administrators know more now than they did at the time that plan was developed.

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