District Recognized in New York Times

Weakley County Schools Recognized in New York Times for Remarkable Recovery Amidst Pandemic Learning Loss
Posted on 01/31/2024
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Weakley County Schools has once again received positive national acknowledgement – this time in an article published today by The New York Times for remarkable recovery in the wake of pandemic-induced learning loss. The article, titled "Students Are Making a ‘Surprising’ Rebound From Pandemic Closures. But Some May Never Catch Up," sheds light on the nationwide struggle to address the educational setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the article, elementary and middle-school students across the United States have made significant strides in their academic progress since the onset of pandemic-related school closures in 2020. While there has been notable progress, data shows that students nationwide are still far from fully catching up to pre-pandemic levels.

Graphic from New York Times showing remarkable learning recovery by Weakley County Schools

Despite these challenges, Weakley County Schools stands out nationally, showcasing an impressive recovery that has garnered national attention. Through diligent efforts and strategic interventions, the district has successfully navigated the complexities of pandemic learning loss, ensuring that its students receive the support they need to thrive academically.

As noted in the New York Times article, Weakley County Schools stood out in nationwide data as one of the strongest recoveries, particularly concerning the county’s socio-economic demographics. To elaborate further, a range of innovative strategies to support student learning were implemented to help students and close gaps in learning. The district allocated ESSER funding towards academic recovery, implementing a comprehensive tutoring program called After Schools Scholars, where students meet with experienced tutors in small groups twice a week. Team supports, including instructional coaches, social workers, and educational assistants, were also added to provide targeted learning for students. Additionally, mental health and student well-being were prioritized as prerequisites for academic success.

student works on fractions worksheet

Assistant Director of Schools Betsi Foster believes that this recognition is a result of consistent hard work.

“The dedication of our team of leaders and educators to improving the lives of students and families in Weakley County is unmatched. Weakley County is consistently recognized for excellence, and when you ask a teacher, principal, or supervisor how it happened, they respond with, ‘we just work hard every day to do what is right and best for each child.’ That excellence is a result of trained and talented educators thinking about and planning for each child, each day. It is no accident that our students and families respond with hard work in return. There are no shortcuts.”

Director of Schools Jeff Cupples expressed gratitude for the recognition and emphasized the collective efforts of students, faculty, and staff in driving the district's success.

“We are proud of our efforts being researched and recognized at the national level. Although it may look different for each student, we believe that education is the gateway to achieving success.  With that belief, it was inspiring to see our staff continue educating through a challenge the size of the pandemic. The leadership came from the top down with Mr. Randy Frazier as we rolled up our sleeves and began problem solving something we had not experienced before as a school system."

To view the full article (subscription required), visit nytimes.com/interactive/2024/01/31/us/pandemic-learning-loss-recovery.html.

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