Our year-end promotion is now! Please make a tax-free donation to LA School Report.
As the pandemic moves backwards, its impact on education remains. The latest edition of the Nation’s Report Card, which includes 4th and 8th grade math and reading results at the federal, state and local levels, was released last month with dismal and sobering results. Test results are an essential metric, but they only tell part of the story.
As the leader of KIPP SoCal Public Schools and an educator with more than 20 years of experience, I don’t believe these numbers reflect the abilities or unlimited potential of our students. Rather than allow these results to drain us, we will use them as a snapshot in time and to fuel our push toward academic recovery by implementing the necessary programs and practices to ensure students return to pre-pandemic levels of learning—and then surpass it.
It will take time
If you work in schools every day, the NAEP results came as no surprise. Whether charter or traditional public school, the pandemic has caused a learning setback for most students and has taken a particularly heavy toll on the Black and Brown communities we serve. EmpowerK12an organization that uses data, analytics and collaboration to accelerate learning, believes students across the country lost almost a whole year of learning progress. It will take more than a single school year for these children to recover.
The influx of federal funds was a start, but in order for us to commit to providing the learning aids and mental health services that will be needed in the years to come, all California public schools will need a steady stream of additional federal and state funds well beyond 2024 .
Focus on tutoring and assessments
It’s up to us to increase our focus on students.
As educators in this state, we need to increase our weekly one-on-one tuition efforts with a focus on interventions, formative assessments, school recovery plans, and the creation of new programs for elementary and middle school English learners. We must innovate existing technology into weekly lesson plans while using government-verified diagnostic programs such as iReady and MAP to ensure our students are meeting appropriate benchmarks.
address mental health
What the country’s test scorecard fails to address is that mental health is an increasingly important factor in student development and an important part of our approach at KIPP SoCal.
We will continue to focus on social-emotional learning efforts by bringing techniques such as circle time, calming corners, and kinesthetic tools into the classroom. Studies show that SEL improvements also promote academic success and reinforce positive social behaviors to foster an environment of growth and learning. Our team will also receive additional leadership training and serve as a forum for the exchange of best practice between all schools.
KIPP SoCal believes in the pursuit of educational equity and social justice and encourages students from our 24 school network to pursue college and pursue meaningful careers to create a fairer world.
As we journey through recovery, we will continue to respect and develop our students as intellectuals, writers, artists, and activists—making data-informed decisions through a fair lens, paying close attention to assessments, and listening to the voices of our students about their own learning and progression.
It’s not time for division
Unfortunately, with California’s charter school renewal fast approaching, some will use these test results to push an agenda that charters are ineffective. education next published a 12-year study of charter vs. traditional schools in their Winter 21 issue. The charter schools not only kept pace with the district schools, they showed a steeper upward trend in student performance. Especially black students made larger profits at charter schools than at traditional district schools.
It is this type of recognition that drives 74% of parents to consider their child for a charter school and 86% of parents wanting options beyond the traditional county schools they are assigned to, according to a opinion poll from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
We know the road to recovery will be long and challenging. Regardless of what type of students are attended, the ultimate goal is to give all of our children the chance to have the best life possible. Let’s not point fingers at learning loss, let’s lift each other up and support all programs that are taking California students beyond the pandemic recovery and into the future.