COVID-19 pandemic leads to concerning school grades in Arkansas

During COVID-19, schools have gone from in-person learning, virtual learning, blended learning, and other techniques, but they are relying on traditional grading.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — If you were to give the pandemic a report card… most people would not award it many good grades.

But a failing grade is exactly what Arkansas students are afraid of— That their grades during this abnormal school year don’t reflect their true abilities.

Tara Aulenback and Amanda Hull both had kids that did not do well during virtual learning.

Both said once their children switched back to in-person learning, their grades started to return to normal.

High school student AJ Espino felt the same way. He began the year with virtual learning, but soon realized it was not for him. 

His grades fell and he feared they would count against him when applying for college.

“It was very difficult,” said Espino. “You had to teach yourself all the material and then we were expected to reach the normal expectations that we normally do during a normal school year.”

AJ also created a petition on change.org asking colleges to take the pandemic into account when looking at students’ GPA’s this year. More than 12,000 students have signed it.

Grading is up to each individual school district. Multiple schools in the central Arkansas area said they are not changing their grading system this year, but some are adding extra help for struggling students.

Pulaski County Special School District is adding an after school recovery program for students to get caught up. While grades will still be counted as normal, PCSSD will be using those grades as indicators for next year’s learning.

“We’re working with parents and working with those students themselves to let them know how important this is, how crucial these years are, and how quickly things can change,” said Dr. Yolaundra Williams with PCSSD.