Education Officials Focus on Remedial Strategies Amid Learning Loss and Attendance Challenges
The Department of Education officials are working on strategies to address learning loss and lagging attendance at the student level amid the chronic teacher shortage. Department heads spoke to senators on the Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development on Thursday about the challenges that they’ve had in this regard, and plans to resolve them leading into the next school year.
Insular Superintendent for the St. Croix District Ericilda Ottley-Herman expressed concern about the skill deficit of the students, calling it an emergency situation. To address this issue, additional strategies, particularly in high schools, are needed. Teachers must develop skills and strategies usually found at the elementary level to help secondary students.
Dr. Stefan Jürgen, insular superintendent for St. Thomas-St. John, mentioned that education stakeholders have discussed ways to address the issue of students going into university and having to take skills courses. One key aspect for test-taking students is to ensure that they can complete online standardized exams without internet interruption.
Co-curricular activities will also form part of the reform of education strategies, such as revitalizing the Communications Art Showcase and older programs that have proven to help students expand and grow their English and mathematical skills over the decades.
Attendance rates, though slightly improved from last school year, remain lower than desired. The highest attendance rate is among 12th-grade students at 93 percent, while kindergarteners have the lowest attendance rate. Ms. Ottley-Herman theorized that low attendance could be due to the impact of the RSV and Covid-19 viruses circulating in communities.
The Department of Education is also focusing on school safety and security improvements, including repairs to kitchens at several schools on St. Croix and security fencing and perimeter walls at schools in the St. Thomas/St. John District.