Local educators seek to improve student learning post-pandemic

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 6:11 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) - Learning during the pandemic took a hit across the county, and in the Stateline.

On Wednesday, local education leaders met at Rockford University for a presentation and discussion hosted in collaboration with the non-profit organization Advance Illinois, Alignment Rockford, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Rockford Public Schools, Harlem School District and Rockford University.

While some education experts have labeled the impact of the pandemic on learning as crippling, the purpose of the event was to discuss ideas centered on learning to help get students back on track.

“A devastation, to be honest with you, where we couldn’t do a whole lot, with regard to learning, with regards to interacting with one another,” said Dr. Terrell Yarbrough, Harlem School District Superintendent.

According to Advance Illinois, chronic absenteeism in the 2021-2022 school year rose to 30%, college enrollment declined and the social skills of students dropped dramatically.

“The more that we are talking with ourselves, we have a collective understanding of the issue, and are sharing what’s working and what’s not, the better we will be able to serve our kids,” said Robin Steans, president of Advance Illinois.

Educators in these local school districts say one of the main problems they faced was making sure all students had equal access to lessons, support, and resources. COVID-19 highlighted the disparities in our communities.

“We are just really focused, not only on meeting the needs of our students during the school day but also on how can we find new partnerships to extend learning or students,” said Dr. Ehren Jarrett, superintendent of RPS205.

New partnerships and ideas include something Harlem School District has been implementing.

“At the elementary level, we now have a social worker at every school, you know, just adding supports like that where our kids have someone to talk to,” Dr. Yarbrough told 23 News.

Both Superintendents want to lessen this number of chronic absenteeism and raise the graduation rates. They think by bouncing ideas off of each other and other teachers in the community, they will know what works, and what doesn’t.