Are you setting yourself up to fail?

Jessye Greene

You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. As of recently, there has been a rise in failing grades here at UACHS, but who is really to blame? Students argue that teachers don’t teach, while many teachers argue that students don’t care.
Towards the end of the first marking period, the overall statistics of failing students here at UACHS were presented to teachers in an effort to gauge what some possible reasons for the increase in failures might be. During the last quarter of the 2018- 2019 school year, Erie Lugo, dean and principal of UACHS began to wonder why such a large amount of students at UACHS are struggling to pass.
“This is something I started looking at this year because I saw so many students were failing and I was curious about the numbers in terms of gender and ethnicity,” said Lugo.
Lugo, decided to begin looking at the percentages of student’s final grades to see who was failing one or more classes.
“So, I looked at the grades at the end of last year and a month before the end of this year’s first marking period,” said Lugo.
What he saw is that approximately 26% of students were failing one or more classes as of November 2019; and he wanted to change that.
In order to find the percentages, Lugo went down a list and checked off each student failing a class; while separating the students by gender and race. Grouping the failing students like that gives out a different perspective, in terms of who to talk to, rather than grouping the students by grade level.
“There are a lot of things in play. So it would be difficult to give one reason,” said Lugo. “A lot of things are presented on social media and television. Drugs, being a part of a gang, and sex can all be glamorized.”
Crime and gun violence within Jersey City initially seemed to be a possible explanation as to why such a large percentage of young African American and Hispanic boys, a whopping 35%, are failing here at UACHS. But studies show that gun violence rates have declined, according to NJ.com.
Students such as Alina Bisram, senior at UACHS, have a couple of explanations as to why they believe students have been failing lately.
“Most of the students are failing because they either like to procrastinate or simply do not turn in their work,” said Bisram.
Chrystiana Chandler, junior at UACHS, chimes in to express how she is failing. Although she does not love to fail, she now sees failing as something everyone does.
“I don’t like the thought of failing it’s just something that sort of happens. But I don’t care about it anymore because it seems to be normal, everyone is doing it; even though I try my hardest in classes I still manage to fail in at least one class,” said Chandler.
Senior Rianna Robles expressed that the problem is not always the students, there are some teachers who do not teach.
“Sometimes some students fail because teachers do not know how to teach. I feel like teachers who can’t teach waste their time and students time. They give out work without teaching it first which causes students to fail,” said Robles.
She goes on to explain how she believes that she is failing a class because the teacher she has does not fully teach to her understanding.
“Everyday when we come in there is a do now on Schoology, a worksheet, then a test the following week. The teacher does not explain the topic or point of doing the assignment,” said Robles.
Anais Ortega, Spanish teacher, one of many who disagree with Robles; teachers are not always the problem, some students don’t care.
“ A good student will remain a good student, but if a student does not like the teach
er that may reflect in their grade,”said Ortega. “But not all classes are fun, and students need to learn how to adapt to that.”
Lugo wants UACHS to be a lifeline for his students, offering chances for them to improve their grades.
“I think our students are very resilient, and they have seen more than most of the adults here. I think the difference lies in whether the student sees school as a way up and out,” said Lugo.
Some teachers agree with Lugo. They are providing chances for tutoring and retaking tests but many of the failing students do not care enough to take advantage of the opportunity.
There are many possible explanations for what the underlying issue can be, and what exactly can be done to improve student’s grades within our school. All of them lead staff to wonder, if students are truly failing because of their teachers or themselves.

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