How will Birmingham City Schools manage learning loss?

BCS students could start next year up to 9 months behind

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - School districts across the country are working to get a handle on learning loss caused by COVID. Research from consulting firm McKinsey and Company found students started school about three months behind in math and about a month and half behind in reading. The research predicts they could start next year 5-9 months behind in learning.

“These students will be known as the “Corona-slide” students for the rest of their academic year if we don’t do something,” said Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Sullivan.

Dr. Sullivan says the district went into the pandemic working to address learning gaps. The state released a failing schools list in 2019 and the district had the largest number of schools on the list. Dr. Sullivan says almost a year into the pandemic they have concerns about the impact.

“We looked at our test results from assessments and they showed deficiencies in reading and math,” said Dr. Sullivan.

The district is currently getting community feedback on a proposal to modify the calendar to start in July. Dr. Sullivan believes getting students in front of a teacher more quickly will help bring students up to speed more quickly. The modified schedule also includes built in academic support days for students who are seriously struggling.

“It’ll be required for those students. It’ll be like summer school. like if they failed a course or made an F and those students who need intervention or enrichment,” said Dr. Sullivan. “Often parents need students engaged while they’re at work.”

Parents have until February 18 to give feedback. Dr. Sullivan says the response to the plan to shift classes up has been mixed, but he says all the survey data indicates people realize there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

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