We can’t even get the Basics Right!

By: Katie Huynh

The most critical time for students in education is the beginning. This is from kindergarten to 3rd grade. This is when students learn the basics. During the first few years of education, you can see how students are doing, their attitudes towards education, critical struggling areas, learning styles, proficiency, etc. and it’s important to focus on these. I think the biggest education issue students in Stockton face is that they get to high school without having mastered the basics.

Schools need a better plan for students that have not actually mastered the academic material. Many students move on to the next grade without completely grasping the critical concepts of the previous grade. Students that are struggling to learn basic math and reading concepts are suddenly expected to learn higher concepts even though they don’t completely understand the basics.

Here’s an example. Let’s say we have a student that was struggling with the concept of past tense language. Although that student never grasped the concept, they were promoted to the next grade level. Let’s go on to say that this student never got that support and then struggle in the next language arts class. Since you need to have the previous skills mastered in order to understand the next level, the student falls deeper into a “skills debt”. However, the schools just push them through. There is no one to slow down and ensure this student master the basics. Do you think that student is going to continue to enjoy school? Would you want to go on to college?

Although I do not know of one way to solve this problem, there are still things that schools can do to help students that are struggling. The first thing that needs to be done is to recognize the issue. Teachers, the district, students, and families, all need to be aware of the issue and how struggling students are doing.

After this, there needs to be a way to assess where students are and have development focused around those. Sites like Khan Academy or programs that have personalized courses to get students to a certain point would be very beneficial, especially if teachers don’t have the time to do it themselves.

Another solution to the problem would be to focus on the motivation that the students receive. Motivation is an integral part of a student’s educational experience and affects how they face school work. Teaching a student that wants to learn is a lot easier than teaching one that doesn’t want to be there. Working on a student’s motivation could be coupled with encouraging at-home learning. Teaching students at school is important but it’s also important to encourage struggling students to seek help and learn outside of school on their own time.

Schools cannot be fully held responsible for students outside of school, which is why it’s important to communicate with parents or guardians. Of course not many teachers have the time to encourage each and every student to want to pursue a better understanding, this is why I hope more resources can be put into elementary counselors, advisors, or specialists to help students individually that struggle with basics.

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