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10,000-plus students switch to in-school classes

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Oct 28, 2020


More than 10,500 families have notified the school district that they are looking to change the way their child receives instruction.

The first deadline has passed for families looking to switch the Face-to-Face and Lee Home Connect instructional models, which resulted in thousands of change requests.

According to school district spokesperson Rob Spicker there were 10,115 students who changed to face-to-face learning and 420 who changed to Lee Home Connect.

“The staffing impact is being calculated this week,” he said Monday afternoon. “Teachers will need to be placed where students are learning. Each school will be impacted differently depending on how many students have decided to return to campus.”

The students will begin the new learning model at the start of the second quarter on Monday, Nov. 2. As part of the considerations presented to families that made the choice to switch models, new schedules will be given to those students who made the change.

“We anticipate the next opportunity to request a change in learning models to come in January before the start of the third quarter,” Spicker said.

The most current numbers for the learning models are 43,562 face-to-face students, 35,066 Lee Home Connect students, 5,531 Lee Virtual School students and 2,512 homeschool students.

There was discussion regarding students enrolled in the Lee Virtual School during the school board’s workshop earlier this week.

Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins said there was a movement made rather quickly for Lee Virtual School students to give parents an option to move back to the face-to-face model. The state was assured that they will do progress monitoring for students and if a student is receiving instruction through an innovative teaching method and fails to make adequate progress, that student will be provided additional support and opportunities to transition to another teaching method.

“That was what we felt we needed to do because of the data that was provided,” Adkins said.

Board member Betsy Vaughn said she certainly hopes that they did not have almost 1,200 students who were doing poorly with Lee Virtual School.

“Almost two-thirds of our middle school kids and over half of our high school kids have received a D, F, or have not logged in at all. That is a bit of a crisis,” she said.

Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jeff Spiro said the number of students returning from Lee Virtual School to face-to-face is 1,187.

He said part of the team’s work was analyzing the percentage of students with a D, F and have not logged in, and so when they got that data specifically from Lee Virtual School it was alarming that there was a large number of students not being successful in that model.

“We really felt like based around what we told the state we would be providing another instructional model to those students, (we should) do that sooner rather than later,” Spiro said. “As educators, when we see that a large (number of students are) not being successful, it felt like a systemic issue that we needed to address very quickly.”

Teaching and Learning Director Candace Allevato explained that they have been working across departments, as well as closely with school administrators, APC and counselors to lay out what needs to be done for these students.

First of all the district will look at the mastery tests for state assessed courses for those Lee Virtual School students to see where the gaps are in instruction.

“That is going to be the first stop for the student to get good data of holes they have, so teachers can differentiate moving forward,” Allevato said.

That score from the mastery test could replace the quarter one grade because that should have been in the student’s quarter one standards that they have learned, she explained.

As far as students that have not logged in, Allevato said it could be a compliance piece.

“If they are able to show standard based mastery and pass that quarter one mastery assessment, the Lee Virtual School statute is based on mastery and not seat time, then we are going to award that quarter one grade,” she said.

Since that is not offered in every course, the district will go to the next step.

“We know it is not possible to ask our teachers to go back and teach all quarter one content because we don’t know each one of these student’s scenarios. What we can do is ask our teachers to continue to move forward in their content in the way they would and fill those holes with differentiation. If the student is able to show quarter two mastery, we can use that grade in quarter one,” Allevato said.

She said Lee Virtual School students’ schedule consists of six courses, compared to eight courses for face-to-face learning.

“We need to be able to give them one consistent daily elective, so they can earn that half credit,” Allevato said.

Spiro said when they looked at the progression plan they kept all students in mind. He said part of that responsibility is definitely heavy on the child moving at a rate and pace that catches them up with their peers, especially with the upper level courses.