The Louisiana Department of Education today released a suite of resources to help school systems ensure a strong start to the 2020-2021 school year for every student. The resources, which range from diagnostic assessments and mental health supports to services for diverse learners and teacher training, are now available on a dedicated “Strong Start 2020” page on the Department’s website.
The resources released today complement funding and guidance issued last week. The Department distributed nearly $260 million in federal relief funding to address unfinished learning from the 2019-2020 school year, set the foundation for continuous learning in 2020-2021 and prepare for potential modified operations in the future. The Department also provided a “Strong Start 2020 Planning Guide” to school systems on how to prioritize spending to meet those goals.
In its guidance, the Department articulated a strong start to the next school year must ensure:
Every student’s academic needs are identified at the beginning of the year using a high-quality, standards-aligned diagnostic tool.
There is a plan for every student, including extra time and support for students with the greatest unfinished learning from the prior year.
There are clear next steps for every high school student and recent graduate, who will enter a new economy.
The expanded “Strong Start 2020” resources create a roadmap for school systems to accomplish this. Among the highlights, the resources include:
Screeners and diagnostic assessments to gauge the learning levels of students in kindergarten through high school, and guidance on how to address unfinished learning;
Social and mental health supports, including mental health screenings upon return to school, to promote the well-being of all students and educators;
Top-rated instructional materials that can be easily adapted during modified school operations, and professional development for teachers on how to use them;
Recommendations on continuous instruction in non-core subjects, including career and technical education coursework, regardless of setting;
Information on how to secure discounted technology, like devices and broadband, to enable high-tech distance education;
Services for high school graduates to ensure a smooth transition into college or career; and
Guidance and resources to support the unique needs of the state’s most vulnerable students, including English Learners and students with disabilities.
“Louisiana school systems should be commended for having created strong academic plans. A strong start to the 2020-2021 academic year must not only retain but build on those academic priorities and ensure they are adapted to meet new demands, including how to open and operate facilities that keep staff, students, and their families safe,” said Acting State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux. “The various resources released today, and those to come, aim to successfully steer that process.”
Resources designed for child care providers and for families are now in development and will soon be released. They will be added to the “Strong Start 2020” webpage.