As schools throughout the North State adapt to the ever-changing circumstances of COVID-19, a new analysis released by Inspire School of Arts & Sciences indicates better learning outcomes for students during the pandemic compared to 2017-2018 school year — the most recent school year that could be considered “normal” relative to the Camp Fire and pandemic crises of the past two years. While new data shared by local sources demonstrate a marked increase in failing grades for high school students in the region, Inspire students are rising to the challenge of distance learning in unique and creative ways. Data collected by the school, shows that nearly 67% of students are passing their courses with A or B grades, compared to 52.3% in 2017-2018. Additionally, monthly attendance rates for Inspire average over 99%, compared to 95.7% in 2017-2018. Inspire has consistently exceeded county-wide outcomes in both grade averages and graduation rates, and this trend continues during a global pandemic.

Inspire Principal Becky Brown commented, “Moving through challenges and supporting students as they find creative solutions to the problems ahead of them has always been a part of the Inspire culture and experience. As we shifted to an online learning model this academic year, we were confident in our students’ and families’ abilities to take on this challenge with the flexibility we have worked hard to instill throughout their education. We have prioritized safety and gradual progress toward in-person instruction while inviting all stakeholders to the table to collaborate on our reopening plans. What we have found is that when families feel like they have a voice in the learning process, they are far more invested in student progress and success. They feel like they are part of a team, and that leads to a better experience as a whole for the students we serve.”

Brown attributes recent learning outcomes to a variety of factors, including: a ⅛ block schedule, which allows each student to focus on one subject at a time for a 4.2 week period; Advisory courses; and a tailored approach to students who are falling behind. Brown noted, “Through Advisory, students receive dedicated time with an Inspire teacher to check in about their progress and stay connected to their classmates. Our frontline Administrative staff are making calls throughout the week to identify needs and offer resources to students and families so that students don’t fall through the cracks. I am truly proud of the way every member of our team is rising to the occasion so that we can teach and learn in a safe and supportive environment.”

Inspire plans to return to institute a hybrid learning model in January of 2021, so that students may have in-person and online learning options this Spring that allow them to keep their class schedule and engagement with teachers intact. “We will continue to use both data and the feedback we receive from students, staff, and families to guide our approach,” Brown noted, “We are listening.”