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LAUSD Says More Middle And High School Students Are Getting D's and F's

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In a Nov. 2, 2020 update, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner said more middle and high school students are receiving low to failing grades. (Screenshot of LAUSD video)
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Struggles with distance learning are leading to more D and F grades among L.A. Unified middle and high school students, but they still won’t be able to get back to in-person classes through at least the end of this calendar year, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner announced in Monday’s update to the district community.

“How do you best address that? Find a path to reduce COVID so schools can reopen. That’s the answer,” Beutner said in an interview with KPCC/LAist. “It's not expecting a miracle to happen when teachers are working day and night to do the best they can with students.”

In his address, Beutner said the Los Angeles area “is still well above the guidelines state authorities have set for schools to consider reopening” and with COVID-19 cases increasing in the county, LAUSD schools generally will have to remain closed through at least January, if not longer.

"As a practical matter, that means it will not be possible for schools to reopen this semester. Under state guidelines, and given the current level of virus, there is simply not enough time left in the calendar for the Los Angeles area to meet the state guidelines before the holidays."

In the meantime, Beutner said, LAUSD will expand in-person tutoring, assessments, and services for kids with special needs from one-on-one sessions to now include small groups of up to three students each, starting on November 9.
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More than 200 LAUSD schools have notified the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health of their intent to offer in-person services. They do not need special permission from the county to do so, and are allowed to welcome back up to 25% of a school’s enrollment this way.

It’s unclear, though, how schools will choose who among the many students who are struggling – students with disabilities, students learning English, students who are getting D and F grades, among others – will be offered an in-person opportunity.

“We know that decision is best made at the school level, between the teachers and principal, they're in the best place to know,” Beutner said. “And we'll leave that discretion at the school.”

A district spokesperson says so far, about 500 teachers and 200 paraprofessionals have provided tutoring one-on-one at 215 schools to “about 1,000 students.”

More highlights from Beutner’s video address and his separate interview with LAist:

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ON REOPENING WAIVERS

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is granting a limited number of waivers specifically for reopening classes for grades TK-2.

But Beutner said 30 waivers a week countywide won’t be enough for his district, which has more than 400 elementary schools.

“If you just look across all of Los Angeles County, it would be the better part of the year before all schools could open under that waiver,” he told KPCC/LAist. “So that's not a practical solution for us.”

ON DECREASES IN ATTENDANCE AND INCREASE IN FAILING GRADES

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In the video update, the superintendent showed slides that seem to indicate that schools in communities with lower household incomes have decreasing attendance among high school students and more middle school students receiving D and F grades.

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In his Nov. 2, 2020 update to the Los Angeles Unified community, Superintendent Austin Beutner said the attendance figures "are below those typically seen when students are at schools."

He acknowledged that administrators, teachers, parents, students, are all working hard to try to make online learning work, but ultimately – he said – ”students need to be in a school where they can learn best.“

“I think that the reflex is to say, ‘Okay, what more can schools do?’ People in our schools are doing everything they possibly can. And if someone can show us anything else we can do, we can do that, too. But now, we need to take that same intensity of focus and bring it back to state and local authorities and say, ‘Okay, are we doing everything we can to reduce COVID in the community so we can get kids back to school?’”

Watch Beutner’s full update here:

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READ MORE OF OUR ONGOING COVERAGE OF THE RETURN TO SCHOOLS:

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