School District Looks For Grant To Fund Summer Enrichment Program

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said that the district has applied for a grant for a “summer academy” for students in grades 1 to 4.

The latest step in helping students who are suffering academically because of learning changes forced by the coronavirus pandemic was taken by the Board of Education at its January 28 meeting.

The board during the meeting approved the submission of a grant application to the state Department of Education’s “Addressing Student Learning Loss” grant program.

The grant application is asking for $156,425 – slightly under the maximum allowed – to provide extra help in some math and English topics for 370 1st through 4th Graders.

The district has already secured a similar amount to help high school students, and is using federal Title 1 money for Middle School students who need academic help, schools Superintendent John Ravally said at the meeting.

Ravally called the effort an “ambitious district learning recovery program.”

In its application for the state DOE grant, the district outlines a 16-day, 3-hour-per-day program to address the “significant loss of learning with below-grade level performance in Geometry and Measurement & Data within mathematics, and Phonics, Vocabulary and Comprehension of Informational Texts within English Language Arts.”

“Our data indicates significant learning loss in our elementary schools,” the district wrote in the application. “Prior to Covid-19, during the 18-19SY, we had 772 students who were receiving Tier 2 or Tier 3 academic intervention instruction in ELA. For the 20-21SY, we now have 799. In math, there were 630 students receiving Tier 2 or Tier 3 in 18-19 SY; this has now increased to 767.”

“Further analysis of our NJTSS student placement shows that 610 students in grades 1-4 experienced learning loss in ELA and/or Math,” the district said in the application.

Of those students whose academic performance has suffered since teh pandemic forced educational changes, 39 percent are Hispanic, 35 percent are Black, 10 percent are White, 9 percent are Asian and 6 percent are multiracial, according to the application.

The summer academy will provide phonics instruction for Grades 1 and 2 and vocabulary and comprehension of informational texts for Grades 3 and 4.

Ravally said the district is also preparing a tutoring program for students, details of which will be released soon.

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