For several years, the Temecula Valley Unified School District has had a controversial policy of not allowing high school students to earn a “D” grade. Students have to earn 70 percent in a class to prove proficiency – or they fail the class with no credit.
High school students who fail a class can get extra help during the year at their schools or they can re-take the class online during summer school – if they can get in.
The last time TVUSD formally re-examined its “No D” policy was in 2009, due to parent concerns. At that time, the district found that 46 percent of students from the three comprehensive high schools (Great Oak, Temecula Valley High and Chaparral) who received an F had earned a score of 60-69 percent – a score that used to be a D.
The increased demand for remedial summer school has led to a waiting list for those still trying to enroll. TVUSD changed the registration process this summer, having most students attend a sign-up event on June 15.
Many students who tried to enroll did not get in. Many were put on a waiting list, hoping that one of the allotted 800 spots will open up later this summer, after another student completes a course to create an opening.
The district said most students who want remedial summer school will get in by the deadline, but incoming sophomores probably won’t find spots. TVUSD administrators said that when they instituted the “No D” policy, they also gave students more opportunities during the year to get extra help and pass the class; summer school is just one option.
The “No D” policy, observed Andree Grey, TVUSD’s director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, “has forced us to make sure kids are held accountable for proficiency.” Some other high schools nationwide have adopted a similar rule as well.
“We want students to show they are ready for the next level and that they are proficient with 70 percent or better,” Grey said.
Not offering a D grade instills a greater sense of urgency in students rather than just letting them get by with minimal graduation requirements, she said.
High school students who failed a class can get help during a daily intervention block set aside throughout the school year, they can get tutoring at the Pauba Road Public Library, or in some cases, have after-school tutoring if it’s offered (it was last year at TVHS). They can also take the course online during the school year or retake the class they failed, she said.
Remedial summer school is open to all high school students in grades 9 and 12. Seniors seeking to graduate have first priority, then the priority goes to students who will be seniors next fall, then to students who will be juniors, and down the grades. There are 800 summer school “users” only at any given times for credit recovery summer school. A senior who’s failed two courses and is taking them both in summer school counts as two user spots.
Students attend class two days a week to take quizzes and tests but they do the assignments at home online. Spots open up during the summer as students complete the class or drop out, and those on the waiting list can enroll through July 19.
Last summer, Grey said, TVUSD accommodated those students seeking credit recovery summer school who were sophomores entering their junior year. Students entering grade 10 did not get in and probably won’t this year either.
“In the past few years, freshman have gotten in but we also know they have more time to make up those credit,” she said. No budget increase is planned to increase the number of available remedial summer school slots, she added.
Summer classes began June 18 and many students were enrolled after the first week. As of June 27, at least 100 students were on the waiting list. The district will contact them by phone when a space opens, but Grey anticipated those entering grade 10 should get a spot by the July 19 deadline.
At the June 15 enrollment event at TVHS, hundreds of students lined up to enroll. Families reported waiting in a line for four hours. Registration was held online last year but some kids ended up in the wrong classes because they didn’t get to meet in person with counselors, Grey said, citing the reason for the change this year in enrollment procedures by having students actually show up to enroll.
“We’re continuing to see how we can do it differently. We understand the line was long and it was frustrating,” she said.
Amy Bentley is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.