Patt Morrison

<em>Patt Morrison</em> is known for its innovative discussions of local politics and culture, as well as its presentation of the effects of national and world news on Southern California. Hosted by

A San Fernando Valley high school tries to go beyond teaching to the test

by Noelle Conti | Patt Morrison

Brock Cohen, Deja Mitchell and Oscar Sanchez Grant Slater/KPCC

There is the ongoing contentious debate brewing in education over linking teachers’ job security to their students’ academic performance. Many teachers complain that the emphasis on measuring their performance based on student performance, as well as the general stress on test scores, creates a temptation to forego creative, challenging lesson plans and instead “teach to the test.”

Some are struggling against the trend, arguing that it can inflict long-term damage if students graduate without learning comprehensive reading and critical thinking skills.

During this special hour, we check in on a program called Humanitas at Grant High School in the San Fernando Valley that is employing an innovative approach to teaching -- one that seems to be successful, though not without its challenges.

As the Humanitas program tries to go beyond “teaching to the test,” its teachers confront a host of challenges: How do they reach kids who have made it to high school without ever reading a book and have limited study skills? How do they assign compelling and contemporary reading material when there aren’t enough textbooks and the school’s copy machines don’t work? How do they make kids feel valued when they don’t have enough desks or even janitors to sweep the floors? How do they get parents, many of whom are immigrants and either unfamiliar with the school system or too busy working long hours, to participate in their kids’ education? How do they get the resources and support they need to implement the program to its fullest potential?


Regardless of whether test scores go up and down or how "Secret Life of the American Teenager" portrays the school, the students at Grant High School are just teenagers. They have dreams. They have problems. They have secrets, and they shared some with us.














What was your high school secret? Tweet with #teensecrets, tag KPCC in your Facebook post, or share confidentially at scpr.org/network. Bonus points if you write it down and take a picture of it. Thank you!


Guests:

Brock Cohen, teacher, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Deja Mitchell, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Kaleb Wilks, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Katie Cohen, teacher, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Macie Mullens, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Michael Clark, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Rachel Watson, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Harjinder Singh, graduate of Grant High School and recipient of the Gates Millenium Scholarship
Linda Ibach, principal, Grant High School
Melissa Serrano, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Simone Linscomb, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Noreen Kragen,student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Edita Abelyan, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Diane Bekian, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Kristen Makaryan, Humanitas program at Grant High School
Chissay Gonzales, student, Humanitas program at Grant High School

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