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As districts work to address unfinished learning and individual student needs, Caddo Parish Public Schools’ leadership unveiled a plan Tuesday which strategically focuses on meeting student needs through a multi-layered approach.

The plan, named Accelerate Caddo, will begin with a thorough review of students’ academic needs this spring before schools move back to face-to-face instruction for all students in grade prekindergarten through 12th, five days per week.

Accelerate Caddo will begin this spring with diagnostic assessments to determine which students need supports, why they need supports, and in what areas. Using this information, middle and high schools will begin Grade Recovery Fridays in place of summer remediation. Students will attend face-to-face instruction each Friday, beginning April 16, and continues through the end of school to provide remediation and grade recovery opportunities.

In July, the district will launch an intensive summer program designed for targeted students in grades kindergarten through eighth. The programs will be provided face-to-face at a child’s home school and focus on literacy and math. The programs will be led by teachers explicitly trained to diagnose, strategically group, and provide targeted instruction.

For incoming ninth-graders, the district will also create freshman academies that will provide an orientation to high school and English language arts and math instruction. To ensure finances do not limit student participation, the district will remove the traditional $250 fee to register for credit recovery courses in the summer. Additional staff members will be on school sites to facilitate credit recovery.

Looking to the 2021-2022 school year, the district will increase math and English language arts instructional minutes across the district, with the most significant change occurring in the district’s middle schools. Students there will receive nearly 200 minutes daily in math and English while maintaining electives. Ensuring the plan is implemented appropriately will require the district to hire an additional 50 teachers – many of them certified in math.

“We know there is little doubt the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-term effects on not only our school system but on districts across the nation,” said Dr. T. Lamar Goree, Superintendent of Caddo Schools. “Accelerate Caddo provides real-time, intensive tools to meet our students where they are and grow them to their greatest potential. Our teachers and administrators have been working throughout this year to catch up our students, and this plan takes that approach to the next level.”

In creating the Accelerate Caddo Plan, the district relied on three essential LDOE Pillars of Learning, including high-quality materials, intentional structures, and effective instruction to serve as the foundation for the district’s efforts. These pillars call for the district to increase instructional time in math and English language arts, allow all students to access top-rated materials and allow individual student data to drive prescriptive instruction from highly effective and highly trained teachers.

An exhaustive recruiting campaign is currently being planned, which will include eight in-person and virtual job fairs. To be competitive in attracting the best candidates, the district will offer a $1,000 signing incentive for any new teacher coming to the district.  Knowing word of mouth is critical to awareness of open positions, the district will also offer a referral stipend of up to $1,000 to current district employees who refer a teacher to qualifying middle and high school courses.

Also, certified teachers, both newly hired and current employees who will teach in identified middle and high school math courses, will be paid an additional $2,000 per class period.

Included in the Accelerate Caddo plan, virtual students will be asked to enroll this spring for the first semester of the next school year. Students choosing to enroll in virtual learning will not be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities, clubs, or athletics.

Finally, while the COVID-19 pandemic created academic concerns, it also spotlights the need to address students’ social and emotional learning needs thoroughly. Focused on students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade, the district will launch a cohesive and well-researched social and emotional learning platform in partnership with existing mental health resources available to all students.