(CBS4) – CBS4 Investigates has found student participation tracking varies in each school district across the Denver metro area, because the Colorado Department of Education isn’t requiring districts to track engagement.
At last check, Englewood Public Schools said it had 97% student engagement in remote learning, the Boulder Valley School District had 96% participation, Elizabeth Public Schools had 95%, Brighton 27J had 88%, and Westminster Public Schools had 80%.
Douglas County, Aurora, and Cherry Creek School Districts are not tracking student participation in remote learning. However, a spokesperson for Cherry Creek Schools said the district estimates only 1% of students have not been able to engage.
Other school districts said it’s too early to have accurate participation numbers.
Among all of those numbers, however, one common thread remains: there are still thousands of students around the metro who haven’t been engaging in remote learning. In Brighton 27J alone, schools across the district have been unable to contact 1,866 students.
But what does it mean for a student to be participating? In every district, participation is qualified differently. Some districts require daily contact, others just weekly, and some base participation solely on assignment completion.
Wheat Ridge High School teacher Lisa Lee says she requires her all of her students to meet on a video chat once weekly, and then she has smaller group meetings on other days.
“I’m making all of my assignments something we do in person, and I take notes,” Lee said.
Lee said it’s important to have that visual contact with students, because she’s noticed a lot of students have been struggling with anxiety and depression as a result of the shutdown. For many kids, she says the community aspect of school is an important outlet they no longer have.
“We’ve got to support the kids that are going through this, you know, we are one thing, the kids are another, and they are the ones that are truly missing out on life experiences,” Lee said. “I’ve taught for 33 years, and I hope I teach for 33 more, so I have lots of time ahead of me to make up for missed time, but this is their time, and they don’t have a time to make up for it.”
Many districts across the Denver metro area have implemented a grading policy that as long as students are participating, their grades can only improve, they can’t go down. But for those students who haven’t been in contact with their teachers, their grades could suffer.
For those students who haven’t been engaging, some school districts are asking social services to conduct welfare checks.
If families are struggling, Lee urges them to reach out to their school district for help.
“We all know kids act way different with parents, and not usually in the most positive sense, so for me a big thing is just giving ourselves a lot of grace in our expectations,” Lee said. “It’s okay if you are doing the best you can.”