By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough-Southborough – Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) conducted a student survey Nov. 17-25 to gain insight to what the student learning experiences have been this year. The data resulting from the 643 student responses was shared during the Regional School Committee meeting on Dec. 16. The amount of school work on remote days, teacher/student communication, and satisfaction levels were discussed.
Principal Sean Bevan shared a quote from a freshman student that summarizes the general feeling of students.
“It’s been kind of hard going into high school this way, but I’m okay with it for the most part because we’re in a pandemic–so I guess it’s expected,” the student said.
“There is a sense of understanding that this is not the model they prefer, but within the model that is not the preference, it is working for them,” said Bevan.
Teachers are being resourceful to increase engagement of students, including having virtual speakers. Michael Finkel, author of “The Stranger in the Woods” recently presented to the freshmen English students.
Remote work versus live hours of classes
The survey revealed that the majority of students (58 percent) have between 3-6 hours of schoolwork during remote days. On those remote days, 54 percent responded that they have 1-2 classes with live teaching.
While some kids love livestreamed classes, others prefer the asynchronous work to do at their own pace.
“I know there has been some question about the fact that some teachers are not necessarily providing live instruction while others are,” said School Committee member Chris Covino. “I really do think it is the teacher’s professional judgement that determines whether or not a particular type of content is best taught a certain way.”
The vast majority of student responses rated communication between teachers and students as high.
As expected, some students have gained an appreciation of person-to-person interactions in a typical school day and the 8 a.m. later start time and structure on the all remote Mondays.
Another reflection of students was that they are over tested when in-person. Assistant Principal Tim McDonald said that a lot of assessments are done while students are in school because testing in a secure way remotely is difficult to do.
This year’s lack of predictability, structure and social opportunities found in a typical school year were also noted by students as a challenge.
The Massachusetts Commission of Education recently implemented required structured learning time for school districts. District remote programs must have 40 hours of synchronous learning happening across a two week period; 35 hours for those in a hybrid model.
“The purpose of the standard instructional learning time is to make sure kids are connecting with adults,” said Superintendent Greg Martineau. “I would say we do that well and would argue that yes we do need instructional time requirements, but it is more about…making sure students are connecting to adults in these models.”