Thousands of students who are falling behind academically because of the challenges brought on by the pandemic will soon have a new tool to help catch up.
“Obviously, with the result of the pandemic, we've seen a lot of learning loss across the board,” said Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley.
The district is looking to buy an interactive, computer-based program to help Kindergarten through second grade students. The idea is to use the online-based program as part of a multi-pronged approach to help students reach sufficient reading levels by the third grade.
“If they're behind at that point in time we see a lot more interventions necessary to bring them up to speed,” Horsley said.
Safety is key, but Horsley believes the most effective way for most students to learn is in the classroom.
Horsley says this program would require a professional learning component for teachers, but adds it's intended that the vendor and the product be self-sufficient — meaning, to take full advantage of a program like this, there's just as much responsibility on the students and the parents.
“I think this is the first time we've really had to be teammates with parents to educate kids,” said Caren Burns, an elementary teacher in the Granite district.
Burns agrees programs like this can be very helpful, but is concerned some struggling students might be stigmatized and says mental well-being should be top of mind.
“They are achieving, and the data is not going to look the same as it has in a normal year just because of the challenges that we're having,” Burns said.
Knowing whether this intervention is successful could take years and many, like Horsley, think education has changed forever.
“And if it hasn't," Horsley said, "then we're doing something wrong if we think we can just revert back to what we used to do and think that's going to be good enough. It's just not.”
The district hopes to have the program up and running by the end of the summer and at that time parents will be notified. Because this is an online program, the district can help parents who do not have internet access, Horsley said.