Noble Academy is Highly Focused on Mitigating Learning Loss
By Mai Sue Yang
When it comes to helping students recoup learning loss from the pandemic, one school in the twin cities will not settle for mediocre efforts. Noble Academy in Brooklyn Park is a public charter school with a hard-earned distinction “High-Quality” by the Minnesota Department of Education for several years in a row. Despite the disrupted teaching and learning that has occurred for nearly two years, the school continues to be proactive in ensuring students receive a rigorous, world-class education focusing on core content areas and standards mandated by the state.
During the distance learning phase, the school continued with its momentum on providing staff development and support to the teachers. Teachers were trained on instructional delivery, student engagement, technology access and use, family engagement, and social/emotional learning. The bar was not lowered as effective teachers were taught that whether teaching in-person or online there should be no excuse to not hold students accountable to their learning. Here are some of the stories parents at Noble had to share:
A parent of five from Noble: My appreciation for Noble has deepened because during distance learning half of my children were attending Noble and the other half another public district and I realized that the other district wasn’t taking my children’s education as serious. Attendance was not taken daily, teachers did not check-in frequently, while on the other hand teachers at Noble were consistently updating me on my child’s work and progress and as soon as they miss a Zoom meeting I would receive a call. I was grateful that the school operated like a private school. I mean this is a tuition-free, public school we’re talking about. Since then it was an easy decision to transfer the other half of my students back into Noble.
A parent of a 1st Grader at Noble: I was extremely nervous switching to an online learning platform for my child last year (kindergartener then) because a five-year old need the hands on learning experience and structure, but WOW, my daughter started 1st grade this year and she was more ready than ever. She’s reading and doing math at and above level, and I have no concerns with other areas of her development because the teachers at Noble did such and Amazing job teaching last year via their online learning program.
Decisions are not taken lightly as it relates to the types of academic support to implement in the school district. Most importantly, the school starts it’s planning process months in advance. “We are very intentional in ensuring we have research-based programs to assist our students in recovering from learning loss. Thinking ahead allows us room for flexibility, direct resources to effectively manage learning loss and identify innovative ways to solve our issues”, CEO Neal Thao explains.
Teachers kicked off this school year by participating in a robust pre-service training program followed by daily strategic planning that occurs throughout the school year. Key expectations are that teachers infuse school initiatives into every lesson, use power standards to drive instruction and teaching time is justly guarded. It is imperative than ever to have teachers who are skilled and passionate about helping students succeed. Superintendent Dr. Mai Yia Chang emphasizes, “We employ high-quality academic and enrichment teachers who are game-changers for our organizations. Teachers are expected to implement our grade level success plan with fidelity and make it a point to reflect, and never stop learning from students, families and each other”.
Additional support that can mitigate learning loss and improve or accelerate learning will be included on the school agenda. When the state offered funding for summer school this past season Noble jumped at the opportunity without question. Last spring the senior administration explored many research-based tutoring programs that are promising and would be most beneficial to its students. The programs to be implemented this year are a combination of one-on-one tutoring, small intervention groups, afterschool activities integrated with school-day and focusing on social/emotional support and extracurricular activities to name a few. In the spring time the school will launch its annual March Madness program that will hit hard on preparing students for state assessments.
The school stresses the importance of webpages being updated with timely information and materials where students can easily switch to online learning in the event that they can’t attend school. Uncontrollable circumstances such as snow days will simply be turned into a virtual learning day. Additionally, it is imperative that each student has an individualized learning plan (ILP) that is used to assess and address different learning levels. The ILPs allow the school to develop custom goals and support in academics and social-emotional needs for each student. Teachers can also build on the student’s strengths and needs and use the ILP as a tool to impact their learning in a positive way.
Noble Academy is not one school to cut corners when it comes to dealing with learning loss. Students’ best interest is always kept in mind and the school will continue to find and improve on strategies, programs and services to mitigate learning loss. The school is aiming hard to combat the lingering effects from the pandemic, and believe wholeheartedly that with students, teachers and families all on board our future leaders will catch up or better yet, surpass in their learning.