What to Expect: Mitigation of Learning Disruptions

MCPS has launched an instructional response plan to address unfinished learning as a result of the pandemic. Performance data for math and literacy last year revealed:

  • Decreases in both literacy and mathematics in comparison to pre-pandemic performance
  • A greater impact on our youngest learners with early literacy skills more significantly impacted
  • Slightly lower percentage point decreases in mathematics with learning gaps more pronounced in grade 5
  • At the secondary level, the greatest impact was on students in transition grades

As part of our instructional response plan to address unfinished learning, we’re:

  • Focusing on literacy and math

    We know that progress was limited for many of our students as a result of the pandemic and so we are prioritizing literacy and mathematics this year to address unfinished learning. For example, In Elementary English Language Arts (ELA), we’ve identified the key skills which are the building blocks of literacy and have adjusted the schedule to provide more time for teaching them. Across ELA and Mathematics, we are increasing our efforts to ensure we are reaching all students, including working with English Language Development specialists to meet the needs of English Language Learners. In addition, our teachers are learning anti-racist and anti-bias classroom strategies to ensure all students feel welcomed and engaged in their classrooms.

  • Teaching at grade level and addressing unfinished learning as needed

    Another important part of our plan is to move forward with grade-level content while also teaching the skills and concepts from last year as needed to support new learning. This is often referred to as Acceleration of Learning. By moving forward with grade-level instruction, we can prevent students from falling further behind. To do this, we first identified and prioritized the most important skills and content to learn this year. Then, we identified the skills and concepts from last year that may have been missed but are necessary to understanding the new content and built time into the curriculum to address them as they are needed. To support our teachers, we’ve provided guidance on acceleration and are supporting teachers and school leaders in planning and delivering instruction.

  • Monitoring student learning and adjusting instruction

    In order to teach on grade level while addressing unfinished learning, our teachers need to know what their students know and can do and use that information to adjust daily instruction. We’re all familiar with assessments of learning that measure student learning periodically, such as unit tests and MAP testing. We’re helping our teachers increase their use assessments for learning. This means teachers will give students tasks designed to specifically let them know when they need to address unfinished learning from the previous year and which students need additional support for grade-level concepts and skills on a regular basis. This ongoing monitoring and adjusting will ensure instruction will be based on student learning needs so that all of our students perform at or above grade level in literacy and math.

  • Providing additional supports during and outside the school day

    We know that tutoring and interventions work to address unfinished learning and help students learn at a faster rate. Because of this, MCPS is providing unprecedented access to tutoring for students at no cost to families. We are providing high dosage tutoring, one-on-on and small group tutoring several times a week, in literacy and mathematics for identified students that supports current grade level curriculum. For students who need more intensive support in literacy and mathematics, we are providing interventions that are available before, during, or after school. In addition, “on demand” tutoring, also known as homework help will be available 24/7, for any student, from approved tutoring companies.

  • Ensuring all of our schools have a common focus and the support they need

    All of our schools have the same goals this year, address unfinished learning in literacy and math and prioritize well-being and school climate to ensure students are on grade level or higher for literacy and math by the end of the year. This means that schools have been working with their director of learning, achievement, and administration and their teams to develop School Improvement Plans, monitor their work, and provide support and learning to staff so that they achieve these goals.

  • Providing system wide training

    Based on this instructional response plan, we’ve identified two key areas for professional learning: Assessment for Learning and Acceleration of Learning (teaching at grade level while addressing unfinished learning). We’re working with the Assistant Chief of Professional Learning to ensure that teachers, school leaders, and central office staff across the district all receive this training to ensure we are all well prepared to meet the learning needs of our students.

As a result of this work, we expect that MCPS K-12 students will perform at or above grade level in literacy and mathematics, and curriculum and instruction will be of the highest quality and based on student learning needs.