DeWitt schools seek state learning loss grant

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The DeWitt school board called a special meeting Oct. 19 to meet a deadline for a grant to help mitigate learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A board subcommittee dedicated to curriculum presented a slideshow and discussed the importance of recovering students’ math and reading scores.

On Sept. 15, the Michigan legislature allocated $52 million for local education agencies to help students whose learning was hurt by the pandemic. The DeWitt school board received the memo about the grant after its previous meeting. There wasn’t another scheduled until November, but the application deadline was Oct. 30.

The presentation, put together by Curriculum Director Brian Doepker, showed graphs with K-8 students’ NWEA scores in math and reading. They showed that third grade students were struggling more than other grades with reading. These students were 10 percentage points below the goal. Seventh and eighth grade reading scores were well within the goal range. Students who experienced the pandemic as fourth, fifth and sixth graders bounced back from learning loss better than younger students, Doepker said, because they already had a foundation in basic reading skills.

The district’s support system is a factor in how funding would be distributed. Doepker highlighted the district’s three-tiered support system to help students. Tiers are based on student needs in and out of the classroom. The slideshow noted that the intervention capacity for those in need of the most support has doubled in all buildings within the past few years. The district’s use of auxiliary online learning programs like IXL were highlighted. These tools helped students stay caught up as they learned new concepts over the pandemic and beyond by providing additional instruction.

The main aspect of the presentation was to show how the funds would be used if granted, but it was not directly mentioned in the slideshow. Doepker clarified that the funds would be used on new and existing programs.

The presentation is to be shown to the state department of education next month.

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