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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Yes, we can grade schools -- just not the way LAUSD wants to

LAUSD classroom
Eleventh-grade students work in the classroom at Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

To the editor: I was pleased to read your editorial saying that the success of a school depends on many variables. (“LAUSD has the latest bad plan for grading the quality of L.A.'s schools,” editorial, Aug. 17)

It is well known that high test scores can indicate a very privileged student population while low scores can suggest poverty. A school with low test scores can be a very good school in the sense that children progress dramatically but not enough to be measured on a standardized test geared toward students whose first language is English. Not being evaluated fairly can be very disheartening for these schools’ students and teachers.

There are ways that schools can be properly “graded.” One way is to keep a portfolio of students’ writing throughout the year. These samples will reveal much about a student’s growth in language expression, vocabulary, spelling, mechanics, thinking skills and content. Another way is to have state inspectors visit classrooms unannounced at different times during the year. Seasoned professionals can usually spot quality.

A lot is known about the proper way to evaluate a school, but it can’t be done with a group test.

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Linda Mele Johnson, Long Beach

..

To the editor: Trying to devise a rating scale for public schools in a city as diverse as Los Angeles is an exercise in futility because in the final analysis, parents will ultimately rely on word of mouth in deciding which school is best for their children. That’s how it’s always been and will always be.

No school report card can ever communicate to parents what their judgment alone can decide.

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Walt Gardner, Los Angeles


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