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Dallas ISD Asks for 5 More Weeks of Classes for Some Students to Battle Learning Losses Due to Pandemic

Two calendars presented to trustees on Thursday would extend the school year beyond 175 days, in the 2021-22 school year.

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Dallas ISD wants to keep students in class longer to catch up on missed learning opportunities due to COVID-19. The district asked board members to look at various plans to extend the amount of time in the classroom next school year.

"Fifty percent of our students were worse off in mathematics compared to pre-pandemic, thirty percent of students were worse in reading," Dallas ISD Deputy Chief of Academics Derrek Little said.

One of the calendars, called the intersession model, would offer a targeted group of students in kindergarten through eighth grade nearly five weeks of additional instruction spread out across the school year.

The district wants to implement shorter summers and breaks, with more physical days in school. It will only happen at some schools, and they're still deciding whether all students at those schools will have to participate.

Classes would start a week earlier, on Aug. 9, and finish four weeks later, on June 23. High schools would not be included. In fact, only a very small number of campuses are included. They are Quincy Adams, Dunbar, Gooch, Holland, Maple Lawn, McShan, Edna Rowe and Webster elementary schools as well as Rusk and Boude Storey middle schools.

Little said schools are working this year and if they reach enough gains they could get dropped from the list.

According to The Dallas Morning News, employee and community engagement is still ongoing at elementary and middle schools in 11 “priority” feeder patterns before a list would be finalized. The feeder programs include Carter, Conrad, Kimball, Lincoln, Madison, Pinkston, Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, South Oak Cliff, Spruce and Wilmer-Hutchins high schools.

The other variation is a “school-day redesign,” where the additional 23 days would be included for all students on a given campus. Little said with the redesign model all students on an impacted campus would have to participate. The intersession model would only impact certain students.

Each campus looking at a change in the calendar will hold meetings to get parent feedback, and the district said no decisions will be made until parents weigh in and give input. Little said if parents don't make the meetings they should still reach out to principals to share their opinion.

The board could approve this later this month, but a district source said it likely will get pushed back even further as it's such a hot topic.

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
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