Dripping Springs ISD seeks to provide support for students who missed instruction during spring semester

Photo of students entering Dripping Springs High School with masks on
Dripping Springs ISD students returned to campus in limited numbers Sept. 14. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)

Dripping Springs ISD students returned to campus in limited numbers Sept. 14. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)

Dripping Springs ISD leaders are offering targeted support to students who had "limited access to learning or contact" during the spring 2020 semester when the coronavirus pandemic diverted students to at-home instruction.

At a Sept. 21 DSISD workshop meeting, Superintendent Todd Washburn defined those "limited access" students as those who were "inconsistently or very rarely connecting or participating in [DSISD's] online remote system over the spring." Staff identified 90 of those students—62 of them in middle school. Near the end of the spring semester on April 28, former DSISD Assistant Superintendent Joe Burns said 48 students had had no contact at all with school. Washburn said at the September meeting that the district had made contact with all 90 students identified for intervention but did not specify whether those 48 students were among them.

Assistant Superintendent for Learning & Innovation Karen Kidd said the 90 students were offered guidance through the district's Multi Tier System of Supports within the first six weeks of the fall 2020 semester, if they were not already on the MTSS roster, which currently includes 172 total students. MTSS identifies students to receive individualized attention and small-group instructional support.

"COVID[-19] or not, students come to us with different starting points, and there are going to be gaps," Kidd said. "The COVID[-19] shutdown opened our eyes a little bit differently across the nation about the students that potentially have more gaps or are coming to us with gaps, and I want you to know that we are currently assessing those students."

Since staff began offering additional support to those 90 students, Kidd said 45% have seen improved reading test scores, and 40% have seen improved math scores. Some, however, have experienced what she called a "COVID[-19] slide," with 15% showing lowered reading skills and 20% showing lowered math skills. Others held constant.

As support for these students continues, Kidd said that the district's goal was not to "teach to a test," although multiple testing methods are in place to track progress, but to ensure students gain essential knowledge specified through Texas Education Agency standards.

An official report of MTSS-monitored students' progress from the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year will be provided in October, Kidd said.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


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