The 2020 school year was different from any other after the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March. Schools closed their doors and laptops opened up, which brought a bevy of challenges and lack of resources, like internet access, for some students. Now, Kentucky wants to make sure everyone has an equal chance for success.
There has always been an option for kids to repeat a school year. There’s typically a lot more that goes into that process and is usually a decision made between parents and the school. The commonwealth’s legislature is having a say now, too.
“The intent is to allow students who missed out on experiences or academics this past year because of covid and all the disruption that we had to have a chance to go back and retake or redo those experiences,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason Glass.
Glass explained the thought process behind the legislative move is to give students the chance to repeat or supplement the year.
“I think they meant well, but I think it's just -- it's a little too far reaching for me to be quite honest,” said Superintendent of Boone County Schools Matthew Turner.
He believes these types of decisions should be more locally controlled, involving just the board of education and schools.
“We don't think this is a good idea, necessarily, to legislate this type of thing to the schools because it can be very, very challenging, very difficult and there's just so many different factors that go into school and the kids moving through school, that it can't simply be: here's an extra year and be done with it,” he said.
Right now, not everything is clear.
“We've issued guidance from the Kentucky Department of Education on that, the repeat part is pretty clear. You do what you did the year before. What becomes less clear is the supplement part.”
That supplement part is left up to the districts.
“The research on retention or repeating year is not very good,” said Glass. “It tends to indicate that the outcomes for students who are retained are worse than students who progress forward. So, it's something that happens in some small, isolated instances, but we're cautious when we should be cautious about when we apply that and determine if it's the right thing for that student.”
Boone County schools have 71 students applying for the supplemental year, about 0.33% of all students in the district and many of them high schoolers.
“We felt like we could do that without it being a drain on our resources and issues with staffing allocations in space,” Turner said.
Meanwhile, Kenton County Schools will have 95 out of 14,500 students taking advantage of the redo year. Campbell County schools have 40 students signed up.
On the parent side of things, Turner said some of them are asking for the opportunity to maybe reset or make sure that your child is on the right track in terms of their social and emotional health.
Parents have always had the option to hold their child back a grade level. The only difference with this redo year is that it’s on a larger scale.
Parents had until May 1 to opt for the redo year, and districts have until June 1 to approve those requests.