High failure rates create concern

By Sebastian Bartlett | Webmaster


Poor attendance, difficult home life, changing schedules and general apathy are all causes attributed to failing grades. Marshfield is currently sitting on a 32 percent failure rate, with 321 students receiving at least one F as of Feb. 28, 2013. The percentage of students receiving an in progress (IP) is slightly more, at 42 percent.

Marshfield is following a trend in the Oregon education system. According to the US Department of Education, Oregon has the fourth worst graduation rate in the country and an achievement index of 57 out of 100. The achievement index rates schools based on how well students do in math and reading. A score of 75 is outstanding, while below 50 shows the school needs improvement.

Marshfield principal Greg Mulkey said attendance issues lead to failing grades.

“If you look at the kids who have an IP or F in math, 75 percent of them have chronic attendance issues,” Mulkey said.

According to Mulkey, responsibility ultimately lies with the parents to make sure children are attending class. Mulkey stated there is a compulsory attendance law which makes it the parent’s responsibility to ensure their children are in school.

However, not all kids fail due to attendance issues. Security officer Todd Tardie believes the number one reason students struggle can be attributed to their home life.

“If you don’t have that strong foundation at home, it’s hard to stay focused in school,” Tardie said.

Although it is a smaller percentage, Mulkey said some students honestly struggle with the content in core classes such as math and English.

“Some kids try and still struggle to pass,” Mulkey said. “We have to provide the opportunity for these kids to pass via some sort of intervention.”

The introduction of the IP was intended to help students who are struggling and willing to work towards proficiency, according to Mulkey. Senior Natalie Fleck said the IP has helped her to pass.

“It gave me a second chance,” Fleck said. “It’s the teacher giving me the opportunity to pass the class.”

The freshman class at Marshfield is currently struggling the most out of all classes with 40 percent of freshman receiving one or more failing grades. Mulkey attributes this to the shock of moving from eighth grade to high school classes.

“The rigor of the classes intensifies and students have to adapt to a more freedom oriented atmosphere,” Mulkey said.

Most students seem to have the high school process figured out by their senior year. The 17 percent failure rate the senior class has is the lowest of all grades. According to Mulkey, by the time someone reaches twelfth grade, they have reached a level of maturity which helps with school.

“At this point students are becoming young men and women,” Mulkey said. “You’ve been through the system and know what’s expected of you at this point in your high school career.”