Webster schools addressing Covid learning gaps

By Josh Beavers

Webster Superintendent of Schools Johnny Rowland had a message for students, teachers, admins, and the community as school began in August.

That message was this school year would be the year of the intervention.

All school year, teachers have been working overtime to shore up learning gaps for students brought on by the Covid pandemic.

“Even before the pandemic we had a number of students with learning gaps,” Dusty Rangel told the Journal during an interview earlier this week. “The pandemic only exacerbated this issue and increased the number of students with learning loss. The district is committed to doing all that we can to help these students make academic progress.”

Rangel, who oversees curriculum and instruction for the district, said using this time to fill these holes will give a student a better chance of catching up and being able to work on grade-level.

“Academic intervention provides additional instructional time outside of the regular education classroom,” she continued.

While interventions have been taking place all year during the school day, the most notable example came over the past three days.

If you don’t have school-aged children, you may be wondering why kids are out for the next two weeks for fall holiday rather than the traditional one-week vacation. The school year was lengthened to June 14 this year, which means there are longer breaks even though there are no extra days. The two-week gaps are allowing for intense intervention three times a year during the end of the nine-week periods.

The new calendar also will make it so there is less of a chance students lose knowledge over the traditional summer break.

“Each intervention period will be three days,” Rangel told The Journal. “They will take place the first three days of each intersession break.”

Those dates are Oct 11-13, Feb 14-16, and April 11-13.

Areas of focus are ELA and Math as teachers work with students on the prerequisite standards they are missing to be able to do grade level work.

Intersession is being offered to PreK – 8th grade students. ACT practice sessions are also being offered for high school students.

The district looked at many types of data to target students for the intensive intervention. Rangel said areas of student analysis included how they performed on DIBELS, Tier I assessments, MobyMax, My Path, Reflex, previous LEAP 2025 scores, etc.

“Students are ranked using this data,” she said. “Invitations are sent to the maximum number of students we can accept with the staff that is available during the intersession period. We are looking at ways to increase the number of student invitations for the next intersessions.”

The October intersession took place at five school sites: Browning, NWHS, Lakeside, Phillips, Webster. Rangel said the district is looking at offering the academic intersessions at every school site for the February and April intersessions.

In the coming weeks, The Journal will have a report on the ways the district is providing intervention daily for all K-8 students.

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