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Akron Public Schools helping students recover from learning loss

happy school girl on math classes
Posted at 11:47 AM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 11:48:33-04

AKRON, Ohio — Two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken its toll on the classroom. Students have health with disrupted learning and now school districts are looking for ways to close the gap.

Akron Public Schools is beefing up its summer programs with courses and materials tailor-made to close that gap from the last two years.

“The kids are coming back from some pretty traumatic two-year experiences,” said Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Chief Academic Officer, and Assistant Superintendent for Akron Public Schools.

Re-acclimating to the classroom can be a challenge for students, so McWilliams-Woods is dialing up coursework that will help students feel inspired to re-engage in hands-on learning.

“Time is one of the most important things that if you can extend the time and expand the learning opportunities, you can more readily fill those gaps versus trying to stack twice the amount of content in a regular school day,” McWilliams-Woods said. “Our approach really was to focus on the engagement to embed literacy in an inquiry-based hands-on project that got students re-engaged in the joy of learning versus trying to just sit and do math problems for four hours to try to make up.”

The programs are meant to evaluate where students currently stand and adjust the instruction to help meet them in the middle.

“One of the major things that they asked for as we headed into this year was the ability to make sure that they could really shop the catalog of all of the offerings and identify ways that if they needed a full day, then they could get a full day,” McWilliams-Woods said.

For many students, routine makes life predictable and easier. But shaking up that routine and giving students opportunities to engage in the community while learning has been a top priority for educators this summer.

“The mental health needs of students, re-acclimating to coming out of pretty isolated environments and not getting nearly the amount of support that they typically would have gotten,” McWilliams-Woods said. “It's all problem-based learning, so students are solving real-world problems and they get to do that in partnership with the Art Museum, with Stan Hywet, with our major partners, the Children's Museum here in the community.”

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