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Letters to the editor, January 21

Name-changer

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,

Denton