When it was announced that Diamond Bar High School was going to participate in distance-learning, students had mixed emotions. After three months of this program, it is clear that this method needs some improvements.
DBHS administrators informed students and parents that students’ semester grades could not be lower than what they were before the school closed. But students still had the opportunity to raise their grades. While this relieved the stress of distance-learning, not everyone was willing to do the work necessary to raise their GPA if there were no consequences.
Those who were already pleased with their grades saw this new grading policy as an excuse to not do any work. Clearly, distance-learning, in summer school or, if necessary, starting again in August, needs to include assignments that count toward a final grade.
Possibly the most useful tool that came from the school during this time was the distance-learning schedule that allowed students to adapt to a routine. Although very few followed it, the schedule created a structure that resembled the consistency of a normal school day.
However, if more teachers held Zoom meetings in those time slots it might have spurred more student participation. Without regular online meetings, students did not feel committed to a schedule.
Most teachers hosted few, if any, Zoom meetings. Not only did this result in less dedicated students, but it left students with assignments but not instruction.
When teachers did have Zoom meetings, it was helpful because students could ask questions about assignments. This made learning from home feel more normal and allowed students to better understand material.
No doubt, students who didn’t do any assignments during the six weeks of distance-learning will struggle as they advance to more difficult classes this fall. You can’t expect a student who didn’t do the work in Algebra 2 to do well in Trigonometry. One way they could compensate for this is if teachers spend time in the first semester reviewing material from last year.
To omit cheating from home, the school should utilize a software that can detect students switching tabs during class. Even though it is known that DBHS students find ways to cheat, a way to track students while doing assignments would make it harder.
Although this end-of-year situation could have been worse, DBHS needs to take the last six weeks as a trial run to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Despite the ongoing crises happening during this time, students need to maintain an education that is both challenging as well as comprehensive.