MPR News with Angela Davis

How to talk to your child about failing grades

A teen girl works on a laptop
Students across the country are struggling with grades as distance learning wears on during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

After St. Paul Public Schools high schoolers failed 34 percent of their first-quarter classes, an increase from 15 percent last year, the district is giving students an opportunity to bump up their first-quarter grades if they pass the classes in the second quarter. 

St. Paul Public Schools is one of many districts across the country reassessing their grading practices during the pandemic. Distance learners all over the U.S. are struggling with their grades, and teachers and administrators are scrambling to figure out why and help students avoid Fs on their report cards.

MPR News host Angela Davis talks with an editor at a national education news publication about what he’s learned about pandemic grades. A local director of student support services also joins the show to discuss how parents and caregivers can talk to their students about their grades during this difficult time.

Plus, Angela has a conversation with two infectious disease doctors about how to celebrate the holidays safely and prevent COVID-19 spread.


  • Stephen Sawchuk is an associate editor for Education Week, a national news publication covering K-12 education. He’s been reporting on student grades during the pandemic.

  • Christina Gonzalez is the director of student support services for Richfield Public Schools. She oversees the district’s school social workers, outreach workers and guidance counselors.

  • Nick Lehnertz is the medical director for infectious disease epidemiology, prevention and control for the Minnesota Department of Health.

  • Adi Shah is an infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic.

Use the audio player above to listen to the program.

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