ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7News) — It’s been an exciting school year with students fully back in the classroom, but a lot of the challenges that came up during the pandemic are still obstacles this school year, including learning loss.
Alexandria City Public Schools is making that a priority with tools for students and teachers. They've already made improvements, but the district recognizes more work needs to be done.
ACPS has been looking at data, creating plans, and intervening when necessary all while providing support to both students and teachers.
SEE ALSO | New data shows students face major challenges in math in Montgomery County schools
“We just got to be patient in a sense of knowing that our students are where they are, and we're going to meet them where they are with those needs, and bring them along,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt. “I hope that everyone understands how hard our teachers work to make that happen.”
To get a better idea of how learning loss has impacted students during the pandemic, ACPS looked into SOL numbers for multiple subjects.
For example pre-pandemic, students were testing at 70% for Math. During the 2020-2021 school year, that dropped to 40% passing. There was a 9% bump in the 2021-2022 school year so there’s been improvement, but the district hopes to have more gains this school year while providing more support.
“We're focusing on providing the best academic environment for every single kid, providing the most high-quality tools, expectations, curriculum, for every single student,” explained School Board Chair Meagan Alderton.
There’s an emphasis on small group instruction to meet each student’s needs by keeping students with similar learning gaps together.
There are also more learning opportunities and free virtual tutoring for those in sixth through 12th grade in a total of 67 subjects including Algebra, Pre-Calculus, and Chemistry.
SEE ALSO | 'It is critical': Alexandria schools work to reduce spiking absenteeism, boost attendance
Another area ACPS is working on is teacher development. Teachers have access to mentoring programs, professional learning opportunities to help with curriculum, lesson planning, and understanding testing.
“If we hire people to do a job, we hire them because we know they can do it,” said Alderton. “So that’s what we set them up to do. Our job is to set them up to be successful.”
The district is also encouraging parents to get involved and let them know if their child is struggling.
“Be a collaborative partner reaching out to your school leaders and tell them what your needs are right? And if you have questions, please reach out to them,” said Dr. Kay-Wyatt. “We also have ask ACPs that you can send questions to and once you send those questions, a staff will respond. So we're excited to have that new tool this year.”
For more details on the areas ACPS is focusing on and how students have been testing, click here.