Monday, November 2, 2020

Failing grades surge for poor L.A. students amid COVID-19 - Los Angeles Times

Failing grades surge for poor L.A. students amid COVID-19 - Los Angeles Times
Ds and Fs surge, attendance slips among L.A.'s poorest students amid distance learning

Grades of D and F have increased in the Los Angeles Unified School District among middle and high school students in a troubling sign of the toll that distance learning — and the coronavirus crisis — is taking on the children, especially those who are members of low-income families.

The district released a chart Monday indicating that based on 10-week interim assessments, failing grades are increasing across the board, but are surging the most in lower-income communities. Compounding the disturbing trend, students in these same communities, hard hit by the spread of COVID-19, have the lowest attendance.

“The attendance figures and interim assessments don’t reflect the desire or capability of students,” said L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner in remarks recorded for broadcast Monday. “They’re eager to learn and every bit as capable as they were before school facilities closed. But the struggle to cope with COVID-19 and online learning for children and their families is very real.”

The data on grades made another announcement all the more painful, even though school board leaders foreshadowed it last week: Campuses will not reopen for most students before January, the superintendent said. And even that timing could prove doubtful, Beutner said, unless the coronavirus pandemic subsides and unless the state and local agencies offer more guidance and resources.

In the meantime, the district is expanding attempts to reach more students in person, providing instruction for groups of up to three students at a time. All participants, including teachers, will have to take a coronavirus test, even if they’ve had one recently. This gradual growth of in-person services is expected to reach several thousand of the district’s 460,000 K-12 students.

The district also will be speeding up the in-person assessment of students with special needs and will allow sports teams to begin conditioning work — outside with physical distancing and no team drills.

The next two months need to be spent in an all-out effort to get ready for a hoped-for January opening, Beutner said in an interview with The Times and in his broadcast remarks. As part of that effort, Beutner said that L.A. Unified is part of a coalition of seven California school districts calling for “a common standard of health, education and employee practices so schools have a clear path to open in the safest way.”

Some state legislators expressed overlapping concerns in a legislative hearing last week, directing their comments to the governor’s office and state agencies, including CONTINUE READING: Failing grades surge for poor L.A. students amid COVID-19 - Los Angeles Times