Massachusetts education officials announce ‘roadmap’ to prioritize students’ sense of belonging and access to grade-level content

As the COVID-19 pandemic emerges, education officials in Massachusetts are preparing to release a roadmap to help districts create a school plan for the 2021-2022 school year.

The “Roadmap to Academic Excellence,” which the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to release this month, identifies three priorities for the next school year: creating a sense of belonging for students. students and families, monitor student understanding and ensure student access. level content.

After districts relied on hybrid and distance learning models during the pandemic, much of the education conversation focused on the learning loss that many students have suffered.

The roadmap will focus on the acceleration approach, creating access to grade school homework rather than focusing exclusively on previous year content and assuming all students need retraining education officials said at a meeting of the Primary and Secondary Education Council on Tuesday morning.

In the roadmap, there are pages with questions such as “Am I looking for feedback and feedback from students and family to inform my efforts,” as well as steps for success and links to Resource. Some of these resources include literacy tests, math accelerator programs, a guide to family engagement, and ways to build a tiered support system.

“Each year, our educators and building administrators must determine how to support students who arrive at different places, leveraging their unique strengths and supporting them in their areas of need,” said Komal Bhasin, Senior Associate Commissioner of DESE. “We expect that due to the pandemic, the variability and intensity of these needs will be greater this year.”

The roadmap will address the day-to-day teaching and learning experience emerging from the pandemic, Bhasin.

“We wanted to provide concrete and tangible resources to help teachers and building managers prioritize the high impact actions they can take to identify and meet the needs of students in daily classroom instruction this fall,” Bhasin said.

Bhasin described the roadmap as a menu of options to help educators diagnose where they stand and provide action steps to create a sense of belonging for students and access grade-level content.

Trainings on the roadmap for educators will take place in May and June, officials said. There will be professional development in the summer and fall.

“When creating the roadmap, we tested the department’s racial equity decision-making tool to ensure that the roadmap process reflected our focus on equity. and racial equity, ”reads a note from DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley.

BESE member Matt Hills asked what differences initiatives like the roadmap make in districts that use it more versus those that do not.

“I think our hope is that it’s accessible to our districts, to all of our districts, to really create school experiences for students that center the needs of students in front of them,” Bhasin said. “I think this is something that all districts can really benefit from and many districts are already doing it. I think our hope is to create something that is usable in the field. “

Member Martin West asked if the roadmap could be an opportunity to learn how the state could play a bigger role in influencing education at the lower level.

Historically, the ministry has set standards and empowered districts to choose which programs they wish to use, Riley replied.

“We haven’t always been role models on what we think is good instruction and it’s a change for DESE where we’re going to try to stand up, give examples of what we are looking for, what we are let’s think. quality education is, ”said Riley.

The roadmap was developed in partnership with TNTP, a vendor that Riley said was selected for its knowledge of the Massachusetts educational landscape, national reach, and previous work with culturally sensitive practices.

Stakeholders, including students, families and educator groups, weighed in on the roadmap, officials said, and the ministry plans to collect data and feedback over the summer to analyze the impact of the roadmap.

Riley said Tuesday that all elementary and middle schools in the state provide five days a week of in-person learning. The same goes for 99% of high schools as of May 17, a date demanded by Riley.

Related content:

  • Massachusetts to Spend $ 70 Million in Summer Programs to Help Students Catch Up Amid Pandemic

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