Planned instruction underway at Clarion Area

By Brett Kriebel



Clarion Area Elementary principal Roger Walter's May 5 work session report included the announcement administration and teachers have begun working together to prepare for planned instruction that was to begin at the district May 11.

According to the report, teachers are responsible for providing three instructional videos per content area, a final assignment, a minimum of two online office hours per week, and receiving and returning all phone calls/emails within 24 hours throughout the process.

District Superintendent Joe Carrico said the move to planned instruction, set to conclude June 2, is largely acting as a short-term pilot process that could serve to prepare students and faculty in case distance learning would become required at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

"We're trying to move the district into preparation for if (the COVID-19 situation) moves into next fall," Carrico told the Clarion News. "We feel this is a really good opportunity for us to put faculty, families, staff, and students in a situation where they can work together to iron out any wrinkles now."

Carrico continued, "Now that we know the school systems are closed, we're going to do assessments and use digital learning as much as possible. We're stressing our connectivity and hardware issues."

A letter sent to district parents from Carrico May 6 noted district officials' initial decision to choose an enrichment and review approach had to do with the belief that the first school closure order would not inevitably extend to cover the rest of the school year.

"Many districts, Clarion Area included, made the decision that we could not meet (Free Appropriate Public Education) or provide equitable access as stated in federal law with a planned instruction model," the letter states. "In addition, we were operating under the assumption that schools would be returning to class during the spring semester."

The letter also makes key distinctions between planned instruction and enrichment and review. Specifically, planned instruction dictates new materials are distributed and assessed for a grade.

Additionally, regular attendance is required under planned instruction.

Carrico added students will be able to improve their grades for the school year under planned instruction, but a student's final grade will not lower through the pilot program.

The letter states if a student completes all assigned assessments, they will receive a score of 100 percent. Those who partially complete assessments will receive an 84 percent score, with those who do not complete any assessments set to receive a score of 68 percent.

Third quarter grades for students are considered complete as of March 13. All assignments are due by May 29 at 3 p.m.

"The fourth quarter grade, as established by the assessments of new information, will be weighted based on three weeks of the 36 week school year," the letter reads.

The letter continues, "The information will be assessed and used to gauge student retention of knowledge. This information will be vitally important for the fall term when we begin planning the level of intervention necessary to recover lost instructional time from the 2019-2020 school year."