With preliminary data showing students falling behind academically due to the Covid-19 impact on schools, Dallas ISD administrators briefed trustees Oct. 8 on a possible strategy of giving families the option of extended learning time to help mitigate learning loss.
Dallas ISD is exploring three different potential options for the 2021–2022 school year that would add learning and enrichment time for some or all students. House Bill 3 offers additional funding for districts that add learning time for elementary students. The half-day funding for grades pre-K–5 is for up to 30 days beyond the normal 180 days of instruction. The district is open to similar options for middle and high schools as well.
Chief of Staff Pam Lear and Deputy Chief of Academics Derek Little emphasized that any extended learning time beyond the set 180 school days would be optional and voluntary for students, and that a robust stakeholder process involving teachers, principals, parents and students will guide how the district moves forward.
“We are looking to provide access to learning experiences beyond what students currently have,” Little said. “And they should be experiences that ignite a student’s passion, promote student agency and require deep thinking. This would not be just another day of school.”
A task force consisting of principals, leaders and representatives of various departments is already meeting to discuss the proposals. School leaders, teachers and staff will soon be contacted through surveys and focus groups for their valuable feedback and input.
Dallas ISD will then launch an extensive outreach effort in November and December to families and community members to get their guidance.
“While we have possible options to talk about today, the truth is that this extensive stakeholder feedback process we are about to start will heavily guide how we end up moving forward,” Lear said.
Exploring the options
Dallas ISD is currently examining these three below options for extended learning time. Depending on the stakeholder feedback and trustee approval, an option could be open to some or all students and campuses.
Option 1: Enhanced Summer Learning
Under this option, there would be no change to the base school calendar, but an additional longer summer session for targeted students. This option would expand summer school offerings, increase targeted learning efforts prior to the start of the following school year, and potentially reduce the summer learning loss for some students.
Option 2: An intersession calendar
Under this option, the school year would start earlier and end later, but only targeted students would attend additional days. This would increase learning opportunities throughout the school year, increase planning time for teachers throughout the year, and potentially reduce summer learning loss for all students through a shorter summer .
Option 3: A full year redesign
Under this option, there would be a longer school year for all students with additional breaks added throughout. The district might designate which students would attend for some of the additional weeks, giving other students additional breaks. This would increase instructional time for students and planning time for teachers while also potentially reducing summer learning loss for all students through a shorter summer break.
The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees is scheduled to approve the 2021–2022 school year calendar in January.