According to Vargas, 51 freshmen and 42 sophomores failed to pass all their classes, making them ineligible to participate in extracurricular activities until Dec. 11, when progress reports will be released.
“That was a high number for our freshmen and sophomores,” Vargas said. “The majority of them just simply didn’t turn in assignments. I’ve never had a year when so many students didn’t turn things in.”
Students must make a 70 or higher to pass a class.
“We had quite a few who failed just one class with a 67 or 68 because of a low test,” Vargas said. “They can recover for the semester. But a lot of these kids who had 65’s and lower, it was just a matter of getting zeros for not turning in assignments.”
Vargas said GISD offers students a second chance to improve test scores to a passing grade.
“We have a really liberal grading policy where you can take a test and then use a retest policy.,” Vargas said. “Let’s say you made a 40 on a test. You can go and schedule a retest with your teacher within five days and move your grade up to at least a 70.
“I’ve encouraged the teachers to not make it an option. I tell them to make the students to come in and retest. And then some of the students still don’t show up.”
Vargas pointed to preparations for the state’s new STAAR tests as a possible cause for the higher-than-usual failure rate.
“The rigors are much more difficult than the TAKS test,” Vargas said.
All GHS students are issued laptops at the beginning of the school year. Vargas said some students have abused their computer privileges.
“One of the things we do anyway this time of the year is pick up the laptops to do programming updates and check for any repairs to be made,” Vargas said. “A lot of the students who are failing multiple classes are using the laptops for anything but their education. They had video games downloaded and music and YouTube videos. I have instructed our technology department to clear those items.
“If students are using their laptops for appropriate means, I have no reason to look at their laptops.”
Vargas said he will cut back lunch time from 45 minutes to 30 minutes.
“My high school students have longer lunches than our elementary, intermediate and middle school teachers. I’m imposing on their extra time, because I don’t have to give them 45 minutes for lunch.”
Vargas said he expects the underclassmen to perform better during the next six weeks.
“I’m encouraging the students to stay focused,” Vargas said. “I want them to take care of their business. When they don’t, they put me in a position of taking care of it for them. I’m not a big consequence-kind-of-guy. I like to stay positive, but when they are not taking care of what needs to be done, they have to understand that failure has a price.”