Making the Grade: The value of supplemental education programs

Our team of education reporters at WBTV discovered more than 40 schools in CMS with underperforming scores.
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 7:58 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 9:06 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Let’s rewind for a moment and take you back to August 2021.

“One of the things that’s going to be very important is extending learning beyond the school day,” CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston said one week before the new school year started.

We’d soon find out that history - once again - repeated itself in CMS.

CMS leaders announced test scores declined, again, for CMS’s Black and Brown students over the roller coaster of a past year.

When we asked how the superintendent planned to fix the achievement gap for its black and brown students, this is what he told us.

“We need to extend learning beyond the school day - that could look like after-school programs - extra tutorial support for our students,” Winston said.

WBTV took his answer to the education experts. Dr. Suzanne Barchers is a seasoned former teacher from Denver Public Schools - a district similar in comparison to CMS.

She’s now an education advisor for the Supplemental Learning program, LingoKids.

Chandler Morgan: “When we’re talking about what kinds of programs we should be going after, does that mean in person? Does that mean virtual?”

Dr. Suzanne Barchers: “It can be a mix because some needs aren’t met in the schools.”

Chandler: “After-school programs might not always be the right answer. You mentioned because they can be seen as a punishment.”

Dr. Barchers: “Right. So there’s a delicate balance their homework assignments need to be done. So when considering an after-school program, I’m really in favor of a sports program, music, art program, even drama, things like that. They teach concentration, collaboration, they develop discipline, there’s positive reinforcement from even incremental measures of success.”

Our team of education reporters at WBTV discovered more than 40 schools in CMS with underperforming scores.

Chandler: “At that point, should a school system be focusing more on putting funding for these types of afterschool programs specifically at those schools that students might need them?”

Dr. Barchers: “There are two purposes this can serve. One is providing extended care for working parents, while also providing the supplemental programs, but for the schools that simply don’t have the resources for that. And right now, staffing is an issue in many places.”

WBTV asked CMS a series of questions about its supplement learning programs.

WBTV Question: What supplemental learning programs does CMS offer involving extra learning while school is session, before and after school programs or even weekends?

CMS Response:

  • CMS offers a host of in-school supplemental programs such as; HELPS Tutoring, Heart Math and Augustine Literacy Project. In addition, our Standard Treatment Protocol for students requiring supplemental or intensive academic support includes a host of research/evidence-based interventions such as; Orton Gillingham, FCRR interventions, IReady, Dreambox and Do the Math. Families can also access free digital learning resources linked here. Students also have home access to learning extensions and supports related to their current studies, within our Learning Management System Canvas.
  • CMS offers an After School Enrichment Program (ASEP) before and after school at 80 sites across the county.

WBTV Question: Similarly - does CMS have any plans to expand those programs by the end of the year? If yes, which programs will be added?

CMS Response:

  • CMS is currently completing academic screening assessments. Then CMS plans to evaluate potential external partners that can provide the appropriate extended learning supports for our students.
  • CMS does not plan to expand the ASEP program at this time.

WBTV Question: Lastly, does CMS plan to offer extra programs to schools that are underperforming and/or have lower school scores?

CMS Response:

  • In a report to the Board, Dr. Frank Barnes stated CMS would use $50 million of the ARP funds for extended learning opportunities at the 42 low-performing schools. A request for proposal (RFP) is being created for disbursement at the end of this month. Anyone interested in working with one or more of the 42 schools identified, and has a researched-based program is encouraged to apply. The selection process will take place in December for a start date at the beginning of second semester.

CMS currently does not have a partnership with LingoKids, a free learning platform for schools to use.

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