District 203 Plans to Help Students Due to Disruption of In-Person Learning

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At the April 6 Naperville School District 203 board of education meeting, district administration talked about their plans to help students because of the pandemic and the disruption to in-person learning.

“We all know the pandemic has caused a disruption of in-person learning to all students and that the reduced in-person instruction time has impacted each student differently,” said District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges at the meeting.

Summer School

District administration is recommending that the board approve summer school plans, which includes providing one free summer school course to all students who enroll. Families would receive a free course either this summer or summer 2022 for families who may need a break or plan to travel.

Summer school would include Bridge Courses to support students with the skills necessary to be successful in their grade level or course, an added bridge math course for ninth grade students in Honors algebra or geometry, algebra essentials for incoming freshmen, enrichment courses, and AP prep courses for high school students.

“In addition to summer school, we will be expanding Jump Start to all elementary and junior high schools,” said Bridges. “Jump Start provides students the opportunity to become reacquainted with buildings, connect with staff, build relationships with peers and staff, and reengage in the academic setting in order to seamlessly transition back to school.”

The district is planning for in-person instruction this summer, but will also livestream courses for those who want to continue remote learning.

2021-2022 School Year

In addition to summer school, the district has some plans to support students in the 2021-2022 school year.

District administration recommends that the board approve providing at least one math specialist at each building to support grade level and content area teachers with co-teaching and targeted instruction. They also recommend providing additional learning behavior specialists and English Learners teachers at targeted schools.

“Co-teaching allows students to remain in the core curriculum and receive the targeted instruction necessary,” said Bridges. “It also provides additional supports to all students in the classroom.”

Bridges said the district plans to provide tutoring services for students identified by school teams. Tutoring would take place before or after school, in person or virtually for literacy or math.

Developing learning boot camps are also in the works. There would be around eight sessions designed to strengthen students’ core skills.

The board of education will approve the summer school and 2021-2022 school year proposals at a future meeting.

Social Emotional Learning

At the meeting, district administration also talked about the importance of social emotional learning. Bridges said they are gathering data to see how the pandemic has impacted each student and teams are assessing the emotional impact remote learning has had on students to identify those who may need additional support.

“Research tells us that some students experienced trauma due to the pandemic. We have provided professional learning to all educators on the impact of this trauma and classroom practices that are trauma-informed,” said Bridges. “We have implemented and will continue to implement our SEL curriculum.”

The district was recently awarded a $4,000 grant from AASA, The School Superintendents Association to enhance their social and emotional learning program.

MAP Growth Assessment

Also at the meeting, district administration presented MAP Growth Assessment results to the board. 84% of kindergarten through eighth grade students were assessed. Numbers compare results between January 2020 and February/March 2021.

Overall, reading remained stable for all grade levels. Grade 1 performance was a little lower this year compared to January 2020.

“Don’t take away from this hearing that every first grade in every school underperformed,” said Patrick Nolten, assistant superintendent for assessment and accountability at District 203. “I’m talking about district trend, and you have to take a look school by school and we’re in the process of doing that. We have been doing that already.”

For math, kindergarten remained stable in all areas. First grade numbers for operations and algebraic thinking, number and operations, and geometry did see a slight decline.

“They [numbers] went down , but they didn’t go down cataclysmically,” said Nolten. “It’s degrees, and in this case it’s subtle, it’s not dramatic at the district level.”

Grades two through five remained stable, except for geometry for fifth grade. Grades six through eight saw “slight deviations” that show lower performance than last winter.

The full board of education meeting can be found here.

Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.