Dallas ISD asking for five more weeks of classes for some students to battle learning losses brought on by COVID-19

Due to the learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dallas ISD administrators want the trustees to approve three types of school calendars, two of which would extend the school year well beyond the district’s 175-day calendar.

A calendar – the intersession model – would offer a target group of students in kindergarten through eighth grade almost five weeks of additional lessons spread over the school year.

“Intersession is really aimed at those students who would benefit most from the extra time and support,” said Derek Little, assistant director of academics.

High schools would not be included, nor would the program be district-wide.

Elementary and middle school staff and community engagement in 11 priority feeder patterns – Carter, Conrad, Kimball, Lincoln, Madison, Pinkston, Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, South Oak Cliff, Spruce, and Wilmer-Hutchins – is ongoing . – before a list is completed.

Classes would start a week earlier on August 9th and end four weeks later on June 23rd. Only half of the students in each feeder pattern would be offered additional study as needed, while the remaining students have those weeks off from school.

The other variant is a “school day redesign” which takes into account the additional 23 days for all students on a particular campus.

Based on initial feedback, only 10 locations are considered for the plan: Quincy Adams, Dunbar, Gooch, Holland, Maple Lawn, McShan, Edna Rowe and Webster Elementary Schools, and Rusk and Boude Storey Middle Schools.

When several members of the Board of Trustees unveiled the plan during Thursday’s meeting, they raised concerns about how campuses might be selected or excluded from the two calendars for the extended school year. They also asked if they could get enough feedback from their constituents before being asked to vote.

The board is expected to vote on the three calendars later this month, but Little reminded the trustees that their votes would not finalize the list of participating schools.

“Ongoing engagement with stakeholders will feed this final list that we will share with you in the February briefing,” he said.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said he understood the trustees’ reservations but urged that the need for additional assistance was urgent. Approximately 50% of the district’s students tested that fall had lost math learning.

“We have a lot of important considerations to make before we ask the board to vote on it in two weeks,” he said. “But if we decide that we still have to do it because the needs are so urgent – because our math scores are falling – then that’s the wall we have to lean against.”

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The DMN Education Lab deepens reporting and discussion on pressing educational issues that are critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative sponsored by the Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, the Community Foundation of Texas, the Dallas Foundation, the Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, the Meadows Foundation, and the Solutions Journalism Network, Southern, supports Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retain full editorial control over the Education Lab’s journalism.

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