WILMINGTON – Delaware will roll out the "Accelerated Learning Plan" to help schools support students and address unfinished learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials announced Tuesday.
“Both our educators and our families are focused on preparing students for grade-level instruction at the beginning of the upcoming school year. Through our accelerated learning plan, we will be able to supplement instructional time that may have been impacted by COVID-19 closures,” Dr. Susan Bunting, secretary of the Delaware Department of Education, said in a prepared statement. “The Delaware Department of Education is a support agency. We look forward to working with our district and charter leaders, as well as our educators and non-profit partners, to maximize academic growth during the summer.”
Using federal funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, Delaware will focus on key areas to support districts and charter schools in helping students make up for unfinished learning. The state received roughly $21 million for K-12 education and districts and charter schools received more than $164 million from this bill.
The Delaware Strategy to Accelerate Learning focuses on four actions:
The Delaware Department of Education will also provide access for every student to an online text repository of roughly three million e-books and the Delaware public library collection. Schools will have the ability to track how many texts students have read and how much time is spent reading. These resources and trainings are also available to community organizations, other entities serving students over the summer and after school, and to families at home, to ensure no matter where children are, they are getting high-quality educational services.
Additional expenditures from this federal funding include supports for non-English speaking families and family engagement around these resources, support for Delaware’s school-based wellness centers, targeted professional learning packages for high-need schools, behavioral health supports, and more.
In addition, the American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Congress last month, will provide DDOE more than $40 million and districts and charters nearly $370 million. DDOE will be engaging stakeholders to solicit input on key areas the state can invest its portion of funding, with a particular focus on how to support students who were most affected by the pandemic. Districts and charter schools will be crafting plans on how they will spend their funds with stakeholder engagement at the local level.
DDOE will hold a Facebook Live in early May to give families and community members an overview of the state’s accelerated learning plan, take questions, and share how families can help their students using these resources.
“I want to thank our federal delegation for their work to secure these critical funds for Delaware’s schools and communities,” Gov. John Carney said in a prepared statement. “Helping our schools make up for the unfinished learning that occurred over the past year is going to be one of the most important things we as a state do. I want to also thank our educators, district and charter leaders, principals, school nurses, and everyone who works in our schools for the work they are doing. These resources are here to help you maximize your impact.”
In a statement, Stephanie Ingram, president of the Delaware State Education Association said she was thankful for the federal funding to help students and educators recover.
“It will provide those who need additional support the most with an opportunity to access this support anywhere, at any time," she said. "We are particularly encouraged by the professional development and training being provided as well as the additional mental health supports for students and educators. Such supports have become even more of a necessity over the last year.”
Dan Shelton, superintendent of Christina School District, said in a news release that the pandemic has led to less direct instruction time even as schools opened with mitigation strategies.
“In Christina, we are utilizing an expanded school year to ensure that we have opportunities for learning to extend beyond the traditional school year," he said. "We are also partnering with Adult Ed. so that we have multiple avenues for our high school students to gain Credit Recovery. Partnering with the Delaware Department of Education, we will also be offering individual tutoring and online math support through the Zearn platform. We are planning to develop lessons around the resources available in SORA, in addition to the curriculum mapping our specialists have developed.”
Javier Torrijos, chairman of the Delaware Hispanic Commission, said that the organization has been advocating for a language access plan to provide more "equal access to services to all non-English speaking Delawareans." The state is one step closer, he said, by providing a language line so parents can call and always have an interpreter available.
"Many Spanish speaking parents have been unable to communicate with their children’s teacher due to the language barrier," he said. "They now can engage in a full conversation to better understand their students’ progress and find out what is going on at their school. They can be directly involved whereas previously this was not possible due to the language barrier. We congratulate Governor Carney and Secretary Bunting in taking this crucial step in providing this long overdue service.”