BATON ROUGE, La. - Following the Governor's proclamation to close school facilities to students for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year to curb the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Louisiana Department of Education released on Thursday a guidance to school systems on how to award course credit and determine grade-level promotion for students in Kindergarten through Grade 11. The new guidance builds on instructions provided to school systems earlier this month on how to ensure high school seniors who were on track to graduate this spring can still do so on-time and without penalty.
In addition, the Department released updates to its suite of continuous learning resources, including case studies spotlighting two Louisiana school systems successfully engaging students in high-tech and low-tech ways; shared information and resources on discounted technology and broadband for continuous learning; and outlined what should be expected in the future.
"Louisiana believes those closest to children - parents and teachers - are best positioned to make decisions about their child's unique learning needs," said Acting State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux. "The Department has provided information and resources to guide that decision-making process, and it is committed to continuing to do so to ensure every child is academically engaged for the remainder of this school year and fully prepared for the next school year."
Grades K-11 Course Credit and Promotion Guidance
Among the key takeaways, the Grades K-11 Course Credit and Promotion Guidance states:
- Promotion and retention in grades K-8 are local decisions based on evidence of student learning throughout the school year. Performance on classroom assignments, course grades, and any benchmark assessments are examples of items school systems can use when making a local decision.
- School systems should determine if students have demonstrated proficiency in the grade-level content and/or courses to award high school credit. If it is determined that they have not, schools can provide options that can help students meet credit requirements via distance learning options, online coursework, written work packets, project-based learning portfolios, or work-based learning.
- School systems should complete the Individual Graduation Planning and scheduling process, to the extent possible, before the end of the current school year. Graduation planning starts in the 8th grade. Each student's plan lists the courses the student will take in subsequent years and identify the diploma path they choose in 10th grade. The plan is reviewed and updated annually.
- School systems should maintain close communication with parents. School systems should work with parents to determine how best to have conversations about promotion, retention and intervention decisions using safe social distancing practices.
Continuous Learning and Technology Guidance
Last month, the Department released a suite of information and resources to support school system leaders with academic and workforce planning during this extraordinary time.
The resources, which are available on the Department's COVID-19 web page, include various distance education models; samples of daily schedules and communication systems; information about remotely providing direct student services, such as occupational therapy or counseling, to students with disabilities; an inventory of instructional materials, most of which have been deemed top-tier through the Department's nationally recognized review process; guidance on how to identify and manage staffing needs; and guidance on how to ensure compliance with special education timelines and requirements.
On April 16, 2020, the Department added more specific guidance on how to support distance education plans at the classroom level, including two case studies. The case studies spotlight Firstline
Schools and Monroe City Schools for successfully engaging students through low-tech and high-tech forms of distance education using the school system's high-quality curriculum. In both cases, the school system is in regular communication with families and has ensured that students are in daily contact with their teachers.
The Department also today released information and resources to school systems related to securing discounted technology and broadband for students. Now more than ever, all students should have access to a device and the Internet.
Planning for the 2020-2021 School Year
The next six weeks will be critical planning time for a strong start in 2020-2021. At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Louisiana must prepare to:
- Identify every child's learning level
- Implement a plan to ensure every child is ready to build on that learning level, including strategies for extra academic time and continued use of high-quality curriculum
- Support the Class of 2020 in the successful transition to life after high school graduation.
The Department will provide programmatic support and coordinate financial support to achieve these ambitions in the coming weeks.