Tallmadge releases plan for students' academic recovery

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal

Tallmadge City Schools is currently working on its plan to ensure students stay on track, and to assist those who have not, and is now exploring how to continue those plans into the summer and the following school year.

"The pandemic has had an impact on our kids and their progress," Superintendent Steve Wood said. "The fact the district has been in-person all year, especially in-person five-days-a-week K-5, has helped to mitigate the need for extended learning. There remain gaps in progress for some students that we are working to fill."

More:Grades 6-12 to remain hybrid for remainder of school year

The district recently shared its plans online, as per Gov. Mike DeWine's request for schools to design academic recovery plans by April 1.

The plans are not binding and can be adjusted as needed, but DeWine asked schools to consider extending the current school year, beginning the new year early, extending the school day or instituting summer programs, tutoring, remote options, and other remedial or supplemental activities.

While DeWine made the request on Feb. 9, Tallmadge had been addressing those issues since the end of the 2019-20 school year, when teachers completed a gap analysis to determine what students missed because of the state-mandated school closure. 

"Teachers had a form and they had to write if they taught [subjects] in-person, remote or if they didn't get to it, and then in the last couple days of school, we had them meet with the grade level above and below them to talk about what was missing and to come up with plans about how to address those gaps," Director of Teaching and Learning Shelley Monachino previously told the school board.

More:Tallmadge schools to make a decision about schedule change in next 3 weeks

Throughout this school year, teachers have been addressing those gaps during intervention, enrichment and academy times.

Enrichment times are 30-minute periods where elementary school teachers check in with students. Academy times are built-in study halls for sixth through 12th graders. 

There are also 39 third graders who have not yet passed the third grade reading guarantee and who are currently receiving after-school tutoring. Monachino said that number is on par with past years. 

"We've also given other district diagnostics for K-8 [...] and use that data to find gaps, and then at the high school, they keep track of credit recovery to make sure they're achieving what they need to graduate," Monachino said. "So even though we did this last year with the gap analysis, we've taken in more information to help our kids who need help." 

Looking toward the summer, the district is continuing the kindergarten bootcamp that was started two years ago, third grade summer school and Tallmadge On-Line for credit recovery, and is adding summer academies in reading and math for elementary and middle school students. 

Monachino said the district is still assessing which students would benefit from summer school and of those, how many are interested in participating. The district will hire summer staff based on those numbers, but has not yet done so, Monachino said. 

In addition to monitoring academics, Tallmadge is also looking at its students' social emotional needs that may have changed due to the pandemic. 

The district already has integrated positive behavioral intervention and supports throughout all buildings and works with Red Oak Behavioral Health to provide counselors for students. 

New this year, Tallmadge started the iCARE mentoring program with fourth through sixth graders who are recommended by counselors. iCARE is already in Akron Public Schools and Barberton City Schools, and pairs students with community members who meet in school for one hour per week. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.