CADDO PARISH, La. (KSLA) - Caddo Parish Public Schools has announced they are unveiling a plan to address unfinished learning and individual student needs before schools return to in-person learning.
The plan, Accelerate Caddo, is for all students who have fallen behind due to COVID-19 in grades pre-k through 12th, and is five days per week.
The program begins this spring, starting with diagnostic assessments to determine which students need supports, why they need support and in what areas. Then, middle and high schools will begin Grade Recovery Fridays in place of summer remediation. The students will attend face-to-face instruction each Friday, beginning April 16, and continue through the end of school to provide remediation and grade recovery opportunities.
The district will begin an intensive summer program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The programs will be face-to-face at the student’s school and will focus on literacy and math. Programs will be led by teachers trained to diagnose, strategically group and provide targeted instruction.
Freshman academies will be created for incoming ninth-graders that will provide an orientation to high school and English language arts and math.
Chief Academic Officer Keith Burton says they saw a huge need in all students needing help.
“The plan really focuses on helping teachers identify who needs support, why do they need it? Are there groups that show a greater need than others? And based on that we will build plans for each student,” said Burton.
To ensure finances do not limit student participation, the district will remove the traditional $250 fee to register for credit recovery courses in the summer. Additional staff members will be on school sites to facilitate credit recovery.
For the 2021-2022 school year, the district says they will increase math and English language arts instructional minutes across the parish, with the most change occurring in the middle schools.
Middle school students will receive nearly 200 minutes daily in math and English while maintaining electives. An additional 50 teachers will need to be hired in order to implement Accelerate Caddo.
“We know there is little doubt the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-term effects on not only our school system but on districts across the nation,” said Dr. T. Lamar Goree, superintendent of Caddo Schools. “Accelerate Caddo provides real-time, intensive tools to meet our students where they are and grow them to their greatest potential. Our teachers and administrators have been working throughout this year to catch up our students, and this plan takes that approach to the next level.”
To create the Accelerate Caddo Plan, the district relied on three essential LDOE Pillars of Learning, including high-quality materials, intentional structures and effective instruction.
A recruiting campaign is currently being planned, which will include eight in-person and virtual job fairs. The district will offer a $1,000 signing incentive for any new teacher coming to the district. The district will also offer a referral stipend of up to $1,000 to current district employees who refer a teacher to qualifying middle and high school courses.
Certified teachers, both newly hired and current employees, who will teach in identified middle and high school math courses, will be paid an additional $2,000 per class period.
Included in the Accelerate Caddo plan, virtual students will be asked to enroll this spring for the first semester of the next school year. Students choosing to enroll in virtual learning will not be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities, clubs or athletics.
While the COVID-19 pandemic created academic concerns, it also spotlights the need to address the social and emotional learning needs of students. Focused on students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade, the district says they will launch a cohesive and well-researched social and emotional learning platform in partnership with existing mental health resources available to all students.
Watch the full interview with Keith Burton here: