By Superintendent Addison Davis
This is the first in a series of columns Hillsborough County Superintendent of Schools Addison Davis will be writing.
This past year, our teachers, administrators and support professionals were champions for children, providing students emotional support and targeted instruction during a historically unique time in education. Students across the nation contended with distance learning, interrupted instruction due to quarantines and mental health impacts that must not be understated.
For these reasons, our team of high-quality educators at Hillsborough County Public Schools will focus on an accelerated learning style rather than traditional remediation when returning in the fall. This proactive approach exposes children to relevant grade-level content while concurrently scaffolding the skills from previous years that students may still need to master. In other words, instead of going backward, we will teach strategically in the present.
In the past, traditional remediation may have been successful in addressing learning gaps for students over a summer break, where an educator has the time to review all concepts the student has not yet grasped. But the pandemic has changed the way we must engage students who have what we call “unfinished learning.”
In this upcoming academic year, our educators will strategically utilize data to analyze each learner’s skills and tailor lessons to individual needs. What will this look like for your child? It may mean a significant focus on small group instruction coupled with targeted supports based on individualized student data.
Our district will spend professional development time with teachers before the school year begins focusing on accelerated learning. Additionally, we will update curriculum guides to highlight prerequisite skills that students may require, making it a more straightforward process for teachers when they return from a much-deserved break.
This critical work will require a growth mindset from our students, teachers and caregivers to realize our success. Administrators, educators, parents and students must set high expectations to close these learning gaps while recovering mentally and socially from the effects of the pandemic.
We know COVID-19 exacerbated learning loss, but we cannot fall victim to the remediation mentality. Our students are talented, determined and resilient. Together, we will create collaborative learning opportunities that champion student achievement and accelerate Hillsborough toward a brighter future.