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Letters to the Editor: Forcing students to ‘catch up’ post-pandemic will make them feel like failures

Students at Olive Vista Middle School in Sylmar wait to return to campus on Jan. 11.
A Times reader suggests pushing standards up a grade to address the pandemic’s disruption to students’ learning.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The best way to alleviate the pain of plunging student achievement, due to COVID-19 disruptions, is to modify the state standards to match the new reality. (“First comprehensive data in two years show big academic setbacks for California students,” Jan. 7)

In pre-kindergarten to 8th grade, move all standards up one grade so that kindergarteners have two years to master their grade, and kids in the other grades are taught material that’s a year lower than in the past. That way, students should be close to 8th grade achievement by the end of 9th grade.

And for grades 10-12, focus on essential skills and knowledge. There’s a lot of slack in secondary coursework, so it’s possible to condense four grades into three.

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Why do this? There is no way kids can catch up on what’s been lost. It’s not their fault. So be flexible, grown-ups, and don’t make the kiddos start life feeling like failures.

Susan Weikel Morrison, Fresno

The writer is an independent science educator and program developer.

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To the editor: Without seeming too cavalier, I’d like to point out that perhaps the words in the closing paragraph, “many schools have committed this year to help students get back on track,” indicate a situation where the saying “never let a crisis go to waste” applies.

As school districts implement those plans, objective research should be done to determine which approaches constitute “best practices” so that future help for students can be research-based.

Wendell H. Jones, Ojai

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To the editor: There have been two main education reforms pushed in the past few decades.

The first is to make teachers responsible for student achievement by using student test scores. The other is to do away with certain student test scores because they are discriminatory and counterproductive for the students.

Yes, you heard that right: You can grade the teachers, but you can’t grade the students.

Now try this at work. Absolve workers of responsibility, and see what happens. Now, what do you think it’s like to be a teacher at an underperforming school when student accountability is taken away?

Stan Brown, Victorville


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