by Brian Szymanski
Print this post

Renovations and a rising student population turned Lunch & Learn into an outdated system. Though Lunch & Learn became impractical due to the current conditions of the school, the administration still wanted to encourage students to take time during the school day to get additional help or ahead on school work, resulting in the creation of the Learn period. Learn is a concept that all Statesmen had to adjust to, and as the year progresses, its benefits and flaws are manifesting themselves.

Designed to closely monitor students’ progress in school, Learn’s purpose is to make sure that students who are struggling are getting the help they need. According to instructional assistant Jerry Lin, anyone who has no grade lower than a C is categorized as being in good standing. Students with more than two grades below a C are placed on academic watch and ones with one or two grades below a C are considered to be monitored and can apply for academic probation. Monitored students and students on academic watch are required to meet with a teacher during Learn.

Dedicating time to provide students with the assistance they need to get on track is good and it is exactly what the faculty and administration should be doing. However, there are obvious flaws to Learn. In the system, an IB Diploma candidate who has had decent grades but gets overwhelmed and slips up in a few classes and ends up under academic watch would be treated the same as a student who shows up to school twice a week and puts minimal effort into academics. There is clearly a stark contrast between these two stereotypical views of students and this is exactly why the status system is wrong. The mission statement says that students will get individualized academic plans.

By categorizing students solely by grades, it fails to recognize the drastic differences that there may be among students who are on the same academic status. Building off of this, the resulting consequences of being monitored or watched represent a degree of administration-student hand-holding that should have minimal presence in a high school.

Learning independence and methods of being proactive are just as important as learning subject matter. Part of this is learning how to recover from failure. Immediately stepping in and requiring students to receive help during Learn inhibits the ability of the students to be proactive. It creates a sense of pseudo-proactivism, an illusion that the student is taking action to better his or her grades, when really it is simply a result of administrative requirement. Independence and generalized academic intervention cannot coexist.

That being said, Learn is still in its infancy, and there are changes to make to improve its effectiveness. Despite the subjectivity of it, students who are monitored or watched should not be treated equally. There are some students who really do need to have their hands held through the process, but the school should be able to recognize this based on their past performances and give specific Learn requirements accordingly. For the rest of the students who end up monitored or watched, administration should not intervene right away, rather, it should sit back and watch how the students handle their situations with no restrictions during Learn. Intervention should only occur if a student does not prove that he or she can be proactive about fixing a grade. Also, initial intervention should be teacher-student interaction rather than administrator-student interaction. Teachers understand the student’s situation better and have better knowledge of whether or not the grade accurately reflects the student, and shaping academic intervention based off of teacher-student interaction would help create more individualized academic plans that are directly focused on the problem rather than simply getting better grades.

Even if changes cannot be made, there needs to be reform in regards to the attitudes expressed about academic status. In elementary school, teachers would always say that when making a set of class rules, students should focus on the positive side rather than the negative side. So, for example, the rule “don’t run in the hallways” should be expressed as “walk in the hallways.” A similar attitude needs to be adopted for academic status.

Administration should stress that students should be striving to be in good standing rather than avoiding monitored or watched status. There should be rewards for students in good standing rather than punishments for students who are not.