LCS adapts to close the educational achievement gap caused by the pandemic

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) – Schools in Leon County completed their first nine weeks on October 15, sending students home with report cards. LCS said those ratings showed positive signs of growth.

Andrea Oliver is a Leon County parent. She said the reason her children were successful is because their parents are educators and because they opted for classroom learning.

Oliver is also a professor at Tallahassee Community College and added that while his children have not seen a change in grades, his research has revealed a disparity in learning for young children during the pandemic.

“I’ve been researching the effects of what they call COVID-related learning loss when schools have been forced into forms of distance education that don’t really bode well for students. who may have struggled academically before, it just caused them to be even more at a disadvantage, “said Oliver.” Based on the research I’ve done, they envision learning losses of up to 50 percent learning losses defined as. “

Leon County School Deputy Superintendent Gillian Gregory said the lack of learning was visible across the county.

“In terms of seeing a difference. If we measured how we’re doing today compared to three or four years ago? Absolutely,” Gregory said.

Gregory said Leon County schools have decided to close the learning gap this year, starting with student assessments at the start of the school year.

“Based on the performance of the students in the core areas, each of them developed their own learning path,” said Gregory.

These individualized assessments give students a variety of courses depending on their academic level. It also gives teachers the opportunity to focus their attention on the students more closely.

“We formed what we call small groups and we differentiate teaching. Students with similar acceleration are grouped together and then teachers worked with those groups according to their needs,” she said.

Closing the achievement gap has become the primary goal of Leon County schools.

“We have second graders who haven’t been in a classroom since kindergarten,” Gregory said. It is difficult when a child leaves school and does not return until August 21. They haven’t closed kindergarten and now they’re in second grade. We had to assess how they were academically but also socially and emotionally. “

The school board plans to bring the conversation to the table at its next meeting. This conversation will follow up on actions already taken.

“One of the things our school board has implemented is 24/7 tutoring,” said Gregory. “Our students from Grades 3 to 12 have an online tutoring service available to them. We have also started working with Solution Skills with our high school students who need extra help to progress.”

Oliver helped launch a program for middle school students over the summer, preparing them for success this year.

With a colleague from TCC, Oliver started SOAR. Whic is an acronym that stands for “Success Over All Restrictions”.

“We invited middle school students from three of our colleges in the area, who feed all of Godby or Rickards high schools to go through an intense three-week remediation program where they would receive remediation and now,” Oliver said.

She added that the program was showing great signs of improvement.

“In our first year of operation, which took place last summer, all of our students improved their math skills 100 percent,” said Oliver.

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