Baltimore Schools Focus on Individual Student Plans in Learning Recovery

Baltimore City Public Schools has released a comprehensive plan it calls Reconnect, Restore, Reimagine, which includes details on how all students will receive increased small-group instruction. The district will invest in more paraprofessional support staff to create more flexibility around instructional time and new daily schedules. Schools will leverage supports like small group instruction while developing student learning plans for every student that incorporate their academic, social, and emotional needs and interests. The plan also includes a commitment that all K-5 schools will offer high-quality tutoring programs focused on foundational literacy skills.

The district is also thinking beyond recovery. Its plan envisions more flexible scheduling for middle and high school students through evening school, virtual courses, and Saturday offerings to help schools better fit students’ lives. The district uses diagnostic assessments, early warning indicator data, and educator referrals to identify students who experienced greater learning disruption and provide these students extended days and tutoring assignments. It also prioritizes support for students with missing course credits.

We are spotlighting this because the district is making a comprehensive investment into increasing paraprofessional staff, which will create the scheduling flexibility needed to enable the implementation of the entire plan.

Reviewer Analysis

John White

Baltimore has organized its plan for support around a strong commitment to a core curriculum and to grade level content. They have among the most coherent academic strategies in the country. Tutoring is not a random activity but a component of a thoughtful strategy.

Jocelyn Pickford

Baltimore’s plan outlines detailed strategies to build on successful practices to personalize learning – such as connecting students virtually to hard-to-staff courses or providing flexible scheduling opportunities for older students balancing school and work. The approach also includes a deep commitment to aligning virtual offerings with teacher and family training centered on the instructional core. Further, the plan details city leaders’ efforts to engage with the whole community to understand what has been working and where improvement is needed to continually inform the path forward.

Learning Heroes

This is a district with top-notch leadership that is thinking strategically about the best use of resources to maximize learning for students. - Dr. Eyal Bergman

The George W. Bush Presidential Center

Agreed that the investment in paraprofessionals makes this idea strong and worth following.

New Leaders

Individualized education plans for all students would allow educators to understand the specific needs of each child they serve and how to address those needs - the focus on academic, social, and emotional is important. The state should consider how they’ll support school leaders in implementing this plan, including direct support of teachers in their schools.

National Parents Union

86% of American families want individualized education plans for their children and high quality tutoring. This is responsive to what parents and families have asked for while also incorporating best practices around small group instruction while focusing on acceleration instead of simple remediation. This also looks like the first steps into reimagining the system! Love this. - Keri Rodrigues

Leslie Villegas

The strategies mentioned in the plan such as small group instruction, investing in paraprofessionals, and providing flex scheduling for older students have been shown to benefit English learners.

Southern Regional Education Board

The focus on small group instruction to address unfinished learning and the concept of individualized plans for each student is innovative.

EdAlllies

Customizing a student learning plan to the measured and unique needs of students is an impressive and necessary undertaking for the district. - Matt Shaver

The Data Quality Campaign

Baltimore’s plan uses data in several ways to meet the needs of individual students. Using multiple types of data to identify students who could benefit from additional support and then developing an individual plan for each student based on their needs is a best practice.

Dale Chu

It is encouraging to see the district leveraging its paraprofessionals in service of getting students back on track. The focus on foundational literacy skills is smart and appropriate.

About the Author

Chad Aldeman is a nationally recognized expert on education policy, including school finance; teacher preparation, evaluation, and compensation; and state standards, assessment, and accountability. Keep up with Chad on the EduProgess: Unpacked blog.

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