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The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


DGS is terrified to raise expectations for students

Vanja Bogdanovic
Online lessons taught many students that failure was impossible no matter how aggressively they betrayed the expectations. That has directly led to a culture that is fearful to hold anyone accountable- especially when they ditch their responsibilities.

After the COVID-19 pandemic subsided and students were able to reenter school, many thought the time lost during those years could be made-up for in the classroom while students fell back into old, better habits. Instead, a new pandemic of absenteeism quickly arose and proved contagious to every facet of school life.

This has largely resulted in a third of the DGS school body being, what the state determines to be, “chronically absent.” This is classified as students who miss at least ten percent of days without a valid reason. Despite this though, the graduation rate remains high at 92%, which means that the majority of these chronically absent students are still graduating.

The time lost on Zoom learning now pales in comparison to the hundreds of students missing out on class daily.

Some students may react by stating that they can pass their class just fine from their laptop at home. But while that may be true, it’s a symptom of a larger collapse of our academic expectations and a general apathy towards holding students accountable.

What these online lessons taught many students was that failure was impossible no matter how aggressively they betrayed the expectations. Teachers were rightfully sympathetic to the online environment and hesitated to fail struggling students. Additionally, many of these teachers lowered their academic expectations to adjust to the new, isolated world.

These seemingly temporary fixes soon became permanent though. It’s now apparent that Zoom has forever eroded the expectations of teachers to near nothingness. Today, the thought of a student failing a class is almost laughable- the system was purposefully designed to make it nearly impossible. Between Z4s and a liberal retake policy, passing a class requires you to complete about a third of the work weeks late.

When the bar was set so low it became a tripping hazard, many students learned to just barely lift their feet; the modern high school is now filled with scores of students who do the bare minimum. The thinking is, if my teachers expect so little from me, why should I expect more?

While a teacher could never abolish absenteeism, a necessary fix is changing expectations. Teenagers are not idiots, but the expectations treat them as though they are. It’s as though the administrators are convinced that if they expected even a little more they would hold the majority of students back.

Put simply, if one doesn’t complete an assignment, they should expect a zero in the grade book.

Likewise, teachers and administrators must be prepared to hold students back or fail them for poor attendance. It’s clear that many of these officials have an intense phobia to that paperwork, but a school like DGS should expect more from their students.

Continuing to let students graduate despite their addiction to ditching is shameful for this school. Letting a student fail so miserably yet letting them graduate sets a dangerous precedent as they walk into the adult world.

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