NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Students in Metro Nashville Public Schools who traditionally do well are failing this semester.
Roughly one in every five students are failing at least one class, according to scores provided by the school district.
The Tennessee Education Association finds statewide that students are having difficulty mastering virtual learning, and that is driving a big dip in grades.
"Even for those who actually have access [to technology], do they and or their parents have a firm grasp on how to access the platform and submit work?" said Beth Brown, president of the organization.
So far this school year, there are more Metro Schools students with an F on their report card than a B, C, or D.
"We know that there are going to be some skill gaps, because of disruption to student learning, particularly in reading and math," Brown said.
Heather Powell has two children in an elementary school in the district.
"The first struggle was helping them navigate technology," Heather Powell said. "We're not really a tech-heavy family, so our kids don't have their own devices and things like that."
She has been able to work at home this year, but said many families do not have that luxury.
"I know that's not the case for a lot of families, and I wouldn't venture to guess what percentage are having to leave their kids home alone," Powell said.
Powell is worried her first and fourth grader could fall behind because they're learning virtually.
"It is upsetting to think they could end up behind their other peers who are in other districts and are in-person or in private schools and able to attend in person," Powell said.
She said there is too much at stake to not try to get kids safely back in classrooms.
"There are just a lot of unknowns about what the future looks like, what the path looks like for students like her, and certainly [she is] not able to sustain the grades she's had in the past, then we worry about the ability to send her on the path to the school she would aspire to go to," Powell said.
The Tennessee Education Association supports districts that decide to stay virtual.
"It is really unfortunate that we find ourselves in a reality where we are having to make less than desirable decisions to keep students and educators healthy and safe," Brown said.
Powell is of the belief parents in the Nashville community will do anything they can for kids to be learning in schools sooner rather than later.
"If there is a short list of things needed, resources needed that the parent community can help meet so kids can go back to school, people are desperate to help make those things happen so the kids can get back in the classroom," Powell said.
In the near future, the Tennessee Education Association would like to see lawmakers suspend standardized testing while students are learning virtual learning, as well as a boost in funding for the next school year, so districts can hire staff to help students catch up.