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Boquet: There is a plan for each student

Working for the betterment of children no matter what department you work in was the message and goal of the two-day Administrative Institute for leaders in the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District.

The district conducts the training for administrators, such as central office staff and principals, each summer ahead of the new school year. This year, the sessions were conducted virtually via Zoom.

“Being out of school so much means there’s a lot of work to do this summer,” Interim Superintendent Cory Butler told administrators. “As we work to become a one-to-one school district and prepare for virtual learning we have to become proficient. We have a lot riding on our own professional learning. Utilizing virtual platforms to teach is nothing new. We have to embrace the change and we have to continue to support each other to provide the best opportunities for our students.”

Sessions ranged from time management and team collaboration to simplifying accountability data and focusing improvement to help improve performance scores.

One of the most important sessions focused on re-engaging students to address unfinished learning due to the eight weeks of school that was lost during the coronavirus closure.

It is estimated that students could experience a 30 percent loss of learning in English Language Arts and a whopping 50 percent loss of learning in math due to the closure. Our curriculum team is planning for this by putting the Strong Start 2020 plan in place to address these challenges.

A strong start for every student will mean that there is an individual plan for every student in our district that includes extra time and support for students with the greatest unfinished learning from last school year. Also, there is a plan for students to hear from teachers every day and for students to receive feedback and engagement on their work every week. Thirdly, there are clear next steps for every high school student and recent graduate, who will be entering a new economy.

Completely re-teaching what was missed during the spring semester would lead to learning loss in their current grade so teachers will be focusing on the new material, while being constantly mindful of and filling in the gaps from last year. In math, for example, this includes determining what was missed during the spring, prioritizing the most essential prerequisite skills needed for students’ current grade level and administering assessments before each unit to determine students’ current understanding of key prerequisite standards.

Summer learning packets are available on the district website at www.stjohn.k12.la.us to help students practice their skills from last year.

This upcoming school year will be a challenging one, but our teachers and administrators are putting plans in place to make sure students have the skills they need to move forward.

Jennifer Boquet is communications specialist for St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools. She can be reached at jboquet@stjohn.k12.la.us.