Online engagement rates rebound, some meal sites to close as Anchorage school year inches toward summer

Bailey Fuller (left), 15, and Willow Fuller (right), 12, of Palmer work on online assignments in their family’s living room on March 31, 2020. (Courtesy of Andrea Fuller)

After seeing an initial drop in online engagement rates in the first three weeks of distance learning, the Anchorage School District reports those numbers have rebounded.

Officials shared the new numbers at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

On average about 87% of high school students logged into online platforms in the most recent three weeks. That number was closer to 39% just a few weeks ago.

ASD Deputy Superintendent Mark Stock said the higher numbers could be because the second data collection period was longer. But Stock also said a clarification in the district’s grade policy could have encouraged students to log back in.

“We announced that if they stayed engaged and they continue to try to submit work and do assignments and complete activities, the high school students at the end of [the year] would have the option of choosing their third quarter grade or their fourth quarter grade, whichever was the highest.”

Stock said final grade outcomes and student assessments in the fall will be better indicators of how much students are actually learning online. So far, there has only been a 2-4% slide in the number of A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s, and F’s earned by students compared to the same time period last year.

But, with just over a week left in the school year, Stock said the district is happy with student outcomes overall.

“In this unique environment, we felt like that was pretty good,” Stock said. “That’s pretty solid, given the fact that every single student and teacher had to learn a whole new way of working in a short time period.”

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The district continues to provide devices to students who need them.

But, there are still some students who have not engaged with distance learning since the district made the transition. Stock said about eight percent of the freshman and sophomores have not checked in with teachers in the last two weeks.

“We don’t yet know what the reasons are, but those would be students who, if they’re failing, that we would be targeting to go in and do the four week extension.”

The district will host a four-week extension after the school year ends for high school students who need more time to earn course credit. The district will also offer voluntary self-directed programs for middle and elementary school students during the summer.

ASD will also close several meal sites as it transitions to a summer schedule.

The following meal sites will close after May 21:

  • Chugiak
  • Girdwood
  • Government Hill (Bus Route will continue)
  • Homestead
  • Ursa Major 

The district will continue to provide meals at the remaining sites to students who need them in Anchorage through June 26th. For a complete description of changes to the food service plan click here.