Acknowledging the inconsistent and rocky school year for New York City’s public school students due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan Thursday to address educational loss and achievement gaps -- starting next year.
“The foundation will be laid through this school year to get ready for a very different school year that begins in September,” de Blasio said at his press briefing Thursday. “In September, there will be a new normal.”
The 2021 Student Achievement Plan will commence with diagnostics measuring how students are doing with educational benchmarks in September, said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza at the press briefing.
De Blasio emphasized this will not be high-stakes testing, but rather assessments for teachers to understand their students’ needs.
Teachers have long asked for more professional development to make remote learning more engaging for students since the pandemic forced schools to go all-remote in the spring, and far more students are now enrolled in full-time remote learning than in blended learning. 700,000 students out of the total 1.1 million student body are expected to continue with remote learning through the end of this school year.
The mayor said he hopes more and more students will be back in school buildings over the course of the spring as vaccines get rolled out.
There will be a “one-stop digital learning hub” and setting up a “Parent University” in several languages to teach families how to provide assistance to kids, de Blasio said. There’s also going to be intense mental health assistance for school communities, Carranza said, drawing on his experience helming the Houston Independent School District through Hurricane Harvey.
To illustrate the challenges facing the school system ahead, Carranza spoke of a student named “Ashi” who dropped off the radar of her remote learning classes. “It turned out her parents had both lost their jobs, were evicted, they didn't have a device, but she showed up,” Carranza said. “She is not the only student who has undergone that trauma.”
The mayor did not address what will happen in the current school year to handle educational loss.