Indiana education officials work to get students caught up as they return to classrooms

Back to School

INDIANAPOLIS — As many kids across Indiana head back to school this week, state and local education officials are working to get kids caught up on lost learning over the past year.

As many children return to the classroom full time, the consequences of online learning are weighing on the minds of some parents.

“I felt that a lot of times they were just getting a lot of busy work,” said Delma Suber, an Indianapolis parent who has two children in high school. “And with that, how am I knowing if my child is even retaining the information?”

Suber said she hopes her kids’ teachers review some of the material they covered last year. And she’s not alone with her concerns.

“What I’ve really heard [from parents] is that they want consistency,” said Rachel Burke, president of the Indiana Parent Teacher Association. “They want as much classroom time as is safe and possible.”

The Indiana Department of Education is largely leaving it up to each school district to decide the best ways to help its students catch up, depending on their needs, according to an IDOE spokesperson.

According to some officials, it will likely also require an individualized approach to help each student catch up.

“There’s always the one-on-one where needed, which is a much more intense approach,” said Robert Taylor, associate executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents. “But it may be more along the line of identifying the needs of a group of students in a particular class or a particular grade level or a particular school.”

The additional state and federal funding for schools this year may also help with getting students caught up by allowing districts to obtain new technology, books and additional teaching staff, Taylor said.

“The funding is available,” he said. “It’s now just a matter of getting the strategies in place, getting the students engaged in the learning process, or the re-learning process, and then moving forward from that point.”

Meanwhile, some organizations like The Mind Trust are partnering with some schools to help offer tutoring to kids who need help catching up.

“The pandemic has taught us this: that we have to be flexible, we have to be nimble, and we have to be adaptive,” said Shannon Williams, executive vice president.

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