Academics in the Hybrid Year


Ian Edgar, Contributing Writer

The previous school year at Shaker High School (2020-21) was a strange one, with an unprecedented schedule no one had experienced before. For some, it was a great year that allowed them extra time and helped their grades. For others, it was a tough year not being able to learn in a classroom. Absences spiked because of how easy it was to miss class, and many people would accidentally sleep through classes in the morning. Teachers struggled with students cheating and missing work. 

In my own experience, I was very focused for the first semester but found it difficult to remain motivated being at home still in the 2nd half of the school year. My grades dropped and I had more missing assignments than I had ever had before. I found it very easy to skip class when I didn’t want to go, and since absences didn’t matter, there was no incentive to not miss class. Other students had similar experiences, but some thrived in the online year with more free time and less work. Their grades shot up and they were happier. Everyone was affected differently by the new schedule, and some students dealt with it really well and some did not.

I interviewed two Shaker students who had vastly different experiences with online school. I will be referring to them as Student A and B (Both seniors at Shaker High School) because they discussed details like absences and grades.  Student A was asked how they felt about the schedule of online lessons: “I really enjoyed the early schedule, being done every other day at 10:30 allowed me to get all my homework done and have a clear day by noon that day.” 

When asked the same question, Student B responded, “I really did not enjoy the schedule, I constantly slept through my classes by accident and my grades slipped heavily.” This strongly contrasts with Student A, who reported a GPA change from 3.5-3.7 over the course of the year. There seems to be a strong correlation between the students’ responsibility and their success during the online year. Students like Student B who may not have been as responsible or self-motivated as Student A, who thrived in the more independent environment, may have struggled. 

I also discussed attendance with the students. Both students had more absences in 2020 than 2018 and 2019 combined. From a combination of skipping classes to accidentally sleeping through them, students missed more school than they ever had before. Both students felt that the consequences for missing a class last year were not severe enough to prompt their own personal concern. Missing classes didn’t necessarily harm their grades though. Student A missed 14 more classes than Student B, but still had a better GPA over the year. Both students played a sport during the school year, and both agreed the schedule allowed them to focus more on their sport with the extra time they were given. One massive benefit of that schedule was the amount of free time students had to do work or explore other interests. The schedule came with many pros and cons, and affected different people in different ways. 

There is no way to tell exactly how this experience has shaped our plan for our present year, with the exception of online work being more prevalent. Before the pandemic, the majority of my work was on paper. Now, almost every assignment I have is on Google Classroom done on a computer. For students who learn better online, like Student A, they can see a clear increase in their grades over the past two years. Students more similar to Student B will have a tough time adjusting to the more independent online schedule and workload. Student B said this about this current school year: “I wish we would go back to being taught by a teacher. Instead in the majority of my classes we are being taught by videos or slideshows not even put together by the teacher.”

It is hard to assess whether it is a lack of effort, or simply it was more difficult for some students to learn and succeed this way. For every student who saw their grades worsen, another student enjoyed the year and saw a rise in grades. Since every student is not the same, the changed schedule last year will continue to support the type of students who are most successful, and make it harder for those who struggled.