The Louisiana Department of Education released a list of resources that will ensure that all students will have a strong start to the 2020-2021 school year on Friday.

The resources range from diagnostic assessments and mental health support services for diverse learners and teacher training.

The list on the LDOE website, ‘Strong Start 2020”, outlines the guidance and funding for the upcoming school year to ensure that students will not fall behind from the unfinished school year as well as sets the foundation for the upcoming school year. 

“Since Louisiana’s school facilities first closed in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, school systems and the Louisiana Department of Education ensured the safety of students and staff was of utmost priority. They have also worked together to provide all students access to continuous learning while remaining safely at home.” stated the LDOE website.

The Department of Education distributed nearly $260 million in federal relief funding to address unfinished learning from the 2019-2020 school year, as well as providing a “Strong Start 2020 Planning Guide” to school systems to provide learning guidelines to meet goals for the upcoming year.

The resources on the planning guide include core academics, students with diverse needs, workforce talent and school systems resources each containing the information as part of the planning guide.

The LDOE stated that when school facilities were closed to students during the final months of the 2019-2020 school year, school systems that offered continuous learning opportunities to students focused instruction on the essential learning of the grade level and subject area to ensure unfinished learning was minimized for all students. 

As leaders plan to start the 2020-2021 school year strong, this guide will help school systems address remaining unfinished learning. 

This guide is designed in two parts:

●  School System Approach Defining the steps school systems should take to build strong academic plans to address unfinished learning across grade bands and disciplines, and create systems that are adaptive to student needs.

●  Content-Specific Approaches Defining the specific actions teachers need to take by grade band and discipline to address unfinished learning throughout the 2020-2021 school year, with the right supports, at the right time, in the areas below.

●  Approach in Early Childhood

●  Approach in ELA, Grades K-2

●  Approach in ELA, Grades 3-12

●  Approach in Math, K-12

●  Approach in Science and Social Studies

●  Supporting Students with Additional Needs

In its guidance, the Department articulated a strong start to the next school year must ensure:

Every student’s academic needs are identified at the beginning of the year using a high-quality, standards-aligned diagnostic tool.

There is a plan for every student, including extra time and support for students with the greatest unfinished learning from the prior year.

There are clear next steps for every high school student and recent graduate, who will enter a new economy.

The expanded “Strong Start 2020” resources create a roadmap for school systems to accomplish this. Among the highlights, the resources include:

Screeners and diagnostic assessments to gauge the learning levels of students in kindergarten

through high school, and guidance on how to address unfinished learning;

Social and mental health supports, including mental health screenings upon return to school, to promote the well-being of all students and educators;

Top-rated instructional materials that can be easily adapted during modified school operations, and professional development for teachers on how to use them;

Recommendations on continuous instruction in non-core subjects, including career and technical education coursework, regardless of setting;

Information on how to secure discounted technology, like devices and broadband, to enable high-tech distance education;

Services for high school graduates to ensure a smooth transition into college or career;

Guidance and resources to support the unique needs of the state’s most vulnerable students, including English Learners and students with disabilities.

Acting State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux said, “Louisiana school systems should be commended for having created strong academic plans. A strong start to the 2020-2021 academic year must not only retain but build on those academic priorities and ensure they are adapted to meet new demands, including how to open and operate facilities that keep staff, students, and their families safe. The various resources released today, and those to come, aim to successfully steer that process.”

Resources designed for child care providers and for families are now in development and will soon be released, they will be added to the “Strong Start 2020” webpage at