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In-depth: Learning Loss in our schools

Districts prep for summer class after virtual year
KCPS Summer School
Posted at 6:13 AM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 11:36:06-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As KCPS wraps up the school year, 41 Action News takes a closer look at local school districts navigating the degree to which their students fell behind as a result of virtual learning.

Kansas City, Missouri, Public Schools’ summer plan to close that learning loss gap begins with summer school, starting on June 21.

More than 5,000 KCPS students are enrolled in summer classes, with one critical objective.

"We have the opportunity to provide our students with a chance to recoup some of the learning loss that has occurred through this last year," said Paseo Academy Assistant Principal Anthony Holland, Jr.

Starting on the 21st, summer classes will run for five weeks.

"We know that with our curriculum team and with the work that has been put in behind the scenes, we are going to make up some of that loss this year we have assessments on both ends, we are fully prepared with intervention in all of our buildings," said Troost Elementary Vice Principal Angela Sharp.

The district has a challenge on its hands, though - every student’s situation is different.

"Some really stayed engaged all year and were in contact. Some we're still trying to find and we're trying to really get them in. Our counseling team did an excellent job for kids who weren't really present in the virtual setting, our counseling team did an excellent job recruiting those kids to make sure they came back to the learning this summer," Sharp said.

For older students, there are new wrinkles: paid internships for credit, incentives for attendance and the Career Exploration Program.

"We're offering the opportunity for students to work with tradesmen this summer through our CTE program, culinary arts, working with other strategic partners to make sure they are job-ready when they leave high school as well," Holland, Jr. said.

KCPS will offer in-person and virtual tracks.

After an unprecedented school year, summer brings what the district hopes is a bridge back to a school year that looks - and feels - normal.

"At the end of the day, it comes down to the relationship between our teachers and our students in our community coming together to make sure that our students are fully educated and that's what we're going to offer this summer, in person, learning for our students," Holland, Jr. said.

KCPS said it’s difficult to assess the level of learning loss across the student population, with everyone encountering a unique experience, but they hope to level the playing field with five weeks of summer school to get everyone ready for the Fall term.

The 5,000 students enrolled this summer surpasses last year's total of roughly 3,400 students who did virtual summer school in the early months of the pandemic. This year's total returns the district to pre-pandemic levels of enrollment. About 5,600 students were enrolled in 2019.