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Letters to the Editor: One solution for schools: After the pandemic, students choose their grade level

A second-grade teacher at Sycamore Magnet Academy in Tustin conducts a remote lesson on Sept. 23, 2020.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: For the last 10 years of my career, I was one of those teachers who gave students what I called “second chances” for every graded assignment. After receiving voluntary after-school tutoring, students would do a different but equivalent test or assignment, and the inevitably better grade would replace the first. (“Grades should measure what kids have learned. Too often, they don’t,” editorial, Jan. 10)

It worked, as proved by my students’ better-than-expected standardized test scores.

Thinking along those lines, here are my suggestions for education during the pandemic: Give students the option of attending summer school all summer long. After, at parent conferences, teachers lay out where each student is compared to grade-level expectations. At that point, parents and students decide where they want to be placed in the fall.

This will result in a wider age range in grades, a problem for sports, but note that schools are not athlete factories.

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Susan Weikel Morrison, Fresno

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To the editor: Having taught at nearly all levels in California’s public schools, I found that your editorial displayed either ignorance or willful blindness.

In my experience, most students fail makeup exams. In both my experience and that of my wife, a professor at Cal State Los Angeles, work that is turned in late is most often very poor in quality.

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Most critically, allowing for retries on exams or assignments imposes tremendous labor burdens on the instructor.

I knew a psychology instructor who allowed students unlimited attempts on exams and bragged of a retention rate of 80%. He also practically lived on campus because he worked constantly. Most instructors do not want to live like this.

Blair Gibson, Torrance

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To the editor: Your editorial could not be more off the mark about the objective of education.

The main purpose of public education is to create an educated and informed electorate; it is not to create a workforce or candidates for college. The fact that one of the largest daily newspapers missed that entirely speaks volumes to the issues that have plagued public education.

Our emphasis on testing and college entrance has taken away from this critical objective. We see clearly today the dangers that come with not understanding the role public education plays in creating and maintaining an informed electorate.

It is my sincere hope that the pandemic highlighted how essential schools are to the health of our nation and that they are viewed as an investment in democracy.

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Jason Y. Calizar, Torrance


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