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Here's why CMS is moving to Plan A with only weeks left in the school year

The boost in face-to-face instruction time comes after an NCDPI survey found 1 in 5 students is at risk of not advancing to the next grade level.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Thousands of Charlotte-Mecklenburg School students are getting ready to spend more time in the classroom.

Tuesday, the district announced starting April 12, middle and high schoolers will be back in-person four days a week. Then on May 10, all CMS students will move to five days a week of in-person learning.

However, these changes come as the school year is coming to a close. According to the CMS calendar, roughly seven weeks of in-person instruction time remains.  

So, can students benefit from these next few weeks? Drew Polly, Professor of Elementary Education at UNCC’s CATO College of Education, said yes.

RELATED: Black CMS students 7 times more likely to be suspended, report finds

“The more time students spend in the classroom with teachers, the more they are able to learn content, as well as retain content at a deeper level of understanding,” Polly said. 

The boost in face-to-face instruction comes after a North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) survey found 1 in 5 students is at risk of not advancing to the next grade level.

Data provided to NCDPI by CMS shows as of January, the district had close to 48,000 at-risk students or 34%.

WCNC Charlotte has requested updated data from CMS, as earlier this year, the district said they put a few initiatives into place to help failing students, including credit recovery programs, adjusting grading policies, and allowing students to re-test. It’s unclear, however, how the district plans to handle failing students.

“From a society aspect, the mass retention and the mass holding back of students is not a good idea,” Polly said. 

RELATED: CMS middle, high school students returning to in-person learning 4 days a week next month

He also said instead school districts should equip teachers with the resources to help students catch up, saying teachers have long been accustomed to teaching classes with students whose academic abilities vary.

“As you think about the trajectory a student might go on, from kindergarten all the way through high school, filling in foundational gaps, or as you said, catch-up, can be done over multiple years,” he said.

“From a district perspective it’s a matter of getting processes in place and making sure teachers are really supported and teachers have the adequate resources needed so when I am teaching a grade level next year, I have the resources I need to not only teach my grade-level standards but also provide foundational support to earlier grade levels to students who need it," he said. 

Polly said there should be a distinction made however between students who are showing up and working and yet failing, versus students who have simply not shown up at all.

But between now and June, Polly encouraging all parents not to give up. 

“Don’t lose hope, continue to support your child,” he said, adding that these next several weeks, combined with summer, can make an impact.

“The more we can keep kids engaged and involved in things this summer, the better off kids will be,” he said.

RELATED: Charlotte school superintendent to present Plan A recommendation March 23

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