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Dallas ISD Looking To Combat The 'COVID Slide'

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Students across North Texas have returned to classrooms, but a clearer picture of the academic impact of the months they were away is starting to emerge.

It even has a name: COVID slide.

"None of our students and none of our families asked for this pandemic," says Derek Little, Dallas ISD's Deputy Chief Academic Officer. "So anything that we talk about related to learning loss is not at all meant to be an indictment."

The numbers are dire according to research from NWEA, an education and assessment nonprofit.

Research from the group was presented during a recent Dallas ISD School Board briefing.

Based on what they've learned about summer learning slide, researchers project that COVID-19-related closures have students returning to school this fall with "roughly 70% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year...[AND ] in mathematics... less than 50%."

DISD has completed its own student assessments.

"We are still looking through the data," says Little. "Certainly there will be cases across the district that we see more severe learning impacts than we would want."

Even with the incomplete data, district leaders are concerned and are already plotting solutions, including more teacher training and possibly extending the school year.

"We haven't made a decision and we are going to engage as many stakeholders as possible," says Little. "We know that if our students need more time with grade teachers, and more time working on really cool, innovative ways that they can expand their learning. We at least want to consider that conversation."

This week, the district is holding focus groups with principals and their supervisors before adding teachers and parents to the conversation.

However, Little wants to make clear that the district is "not talking about year round school. Everybody would still have breaks, both during the school year and in the summer."

The additional calendar days would also be optional.

While Little stresses that they are very much in the "draft" stages, there is still a certain sense of urgency surrounding crafting solutions.

"Our district is committed to growth, but we also know that growth happens over time," says Little. "We owe it to our students to keep every option on the table right now."

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