Skip to Navigation Skip to Main Content

Letters to the editor, January 21


According to various sources, internationally, the U.S. ranks 17th in reading and math, below China, Estonia and Poland. American students place second from the top in “self-confidence.”

Nationally, on a scale of 100, the Texas public school system is currently rated from a high 60 percent to a low of 10 percent.

A well-meaning Denton ISD is now implementing a pilot program whose goal is for elementary students to become “critical learners” and “participants” that are “responsible for their [own] learning.”

In the bad old days, students did homework. Homework was corrected, graded and returned. It was then taken home and parents reviewed the results. In the new/ good days, students do “independent practice” and receive written teacher “feedback,” not a grade.

Where are the extrinsic consequences and rewards for choosing, or not choosing, to participate in these “independent practice” activities?

For six-week reporting periods (sans the degrading artificiality of grades), student mastery is indicated on report cards by a series of scores or rubrics. Ratings: 1 insufficient; 2, making progress; 3, meets expectations; and 4, exceeds expectations. This looks suspiciously like: A, 4 points: B, 3 points, etc., with no F word (failure) to undermine anyone’s confidence or self-esteem.

This new system will convince busy parents “to work ... with their children at home and will teach students ... how to be accountable. ...”

This sounds more like a name-changer than a game-changer.

 My inner child asks for more carefully reasoned, effective and substantive reforms.

Melinda G. Marino,