Dear Dayton Public Schools Families and Dayton Community Members:
As a result of the pandemic and disrupted learning, districts across the state are expected to reflect lower scores and an overall downward trend on the Ohio State Report Card compared to 2019. We expect that the Dayton Public School District will follow this trend and reflect learning gaps and overall lower scores, just as districts across the country are experiencing.
While we recognize that this is a step back from the tremendous progress made on the report card in 2019, this is not a surprise. Remote learning took a devastating toll on student academic performance. As a result, the district has already taken proactive steps toward addressing the learning gaps that now exist. The district is working to increase student achievement and attendance through proactive means.
The efforts, listed below, began over the summer and focus on staff training, academics, college/career preparation, and student mental well-being.
Academics and College/Career Preparation:
- DPS Summers Camps were held in July and provided students with hands-on, engaging instruction around core subject areas to help get them back on track. Students also had daily enrichment activities and real-world learning experiences. High school students chose an area of interest and spent the camps learning about Art & Equity, STEM & Project-Based Learning, or Entrepreneurship.
- A double teaching model was implemented in grades 1-3, and math specialists are now in grades 4-6. These changes provide class size reduction, which allows teachers to address learning gaps more quickly and provide more one-on-one support to students when needed. Teachers in double teaching classrooms meet bi-weekly for ongoing training.
- A new reading class for grades 7-10 was implemented this year. These classes are designed to help students improve their reading skills and move forward in their reading level.
- New daily math workshops in grades 1-3 have been implemented to help sharpen student math skills and help students become mathematical thinkers. Dr. Nicki Newton, a well-known consultant who works with districts across the country, also holds professional development twice a month with the teachers leading the workshops.
- An instructional paraprofessional now works between two Kindergarten classrooms in each building to provide additional academic support.
- A two-day TorchPrep ACT preparation camp is being held later this month for high school students preparing to take the ACT. The camp is at capacity and there is a waiting list of interested students. More opportunities will be offered to provide all students with the preparation they need.
- The number of career pathways has increased at Meadowdale Career Technology Center. With two fully functioning CTCs, career pathways for students have nearly doubled. Career Tech programs allow students to get hands-on, real-world experience in a career while in high school. Students graduate ready to begin entry-level careers or continue their education in college.
Student Mental Health Support:
- Student Resiliency Coordinators (SRCs) from Dayton Children’s Hospital are available in each building. SRCs will connect students in need of extended counseling with the right services, and then keep track of whether the student is making progress.
- Student behavior therapists from Dayton Children’s Hospital are new this year and travel between buildings to provide short-term counseling for students. These counselors deal with issues that can typically be resolved in 8-10 weeks.
Teacher Training and Development:
- In September, all buildings were closed for an extra professional development day. This training for teachers reinforced instructional strategies that have proven to be successful in DPS. These are the same research-based strategies that helped the district improve its report card grade in 2019.
- Building Leadership Team (BLT) Cohorts are holding additional meetings outside of normal BLT meetings to discuss how schools can work toward the academic goals set by the building and district.
- District Leadership Team (DLT) meetings are held once a month and bring together representatives from each BLT to review data for attendance, behavior, and academics across the district. The team then discusses how the district can help buildings take steps toward meeting the goals set for these areas. This year, the team restructured how they look at data and review all three pieces of data each meeting rather than focusing on only one at a time.
- The Primary Mathematics Cohort (1-3) brings together teachers from across the district to work collaboratively to develop math lessons that build foundational math skills and problem-solving through literacy.
- The Math Literacy Cohort for secondary teachers works with Dr. Kirk Kirkwood, a well-known consultant that partners with districts across the country. The Cohort brings together teachers from across the district to help remove barriers and make sure math is taught in an equitable way.
- The Balanced Literacy Cohort brings together teachers from across the district to study reading and writing and how to best teach these subjects. In addition, the Reading Endorsement Cohort through Miami University provides secondary teachers with training on implementing more intentional reading instruction.
- All principals and assistant principals had a retreat over the summer focused on equity and improving student achievement this school year.
- School buildings also had retreats over the summer, which focused on team building, visions and missions for each school, social emotional support for students, specific strategies for their students, and much more.
- World of Wonder has been opened as a staff training center for future professional development. Now called DPS Residence Park Staff Development Center, the building will provide a dedicated location for ongoing staff professional development.
With these important changes already in place, we are confident that we will make up for the learning gaps that resulted from a very disrupted learning year. In addition, we are confident that our 2022 report card will reflect the progress that is already underway in classrooms.
Thank you for your continued support. We will continue to do everything in our power to combat the learning loss that occurred over the last 18 months, and work to set all students up for academic and lifelong success.
Elizabeth J. Lolli, Ph.D.
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