Richmond Public School leaders discuss low reading, math scores and plan to fix it

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 4:20 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Public School leaders are trying to turn around a bad report card.

RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras says the learning situation is dire. Board members and the state are hopeful the plan in place will help.

“Third graders, if you put them in a room today, group them off at 10, and tell them to read something at a third grade level, they probably won’t be able to do that,” said Mariah White, Richmond School Board Member.

RPS is dealing with a learning crisis, partially due to the pandemic and virtual learning. Right now, city schools report only 35% of students across the division are proficient in reading. That number stands at 10% for math.

“When you have one reading interventionist for 60 students, and one reading coach, there is no way they can get to the basis of those phonics and sight words,” said White.

Those at the head of the class were called before Virginia Department of Education leaders on Monday to answer questions about plans to change things.

“I think if you get to the middle to three quarters of the year and the strategies we have in now aren’t seeing the growth that you need I think some individualized tutoring can be helpful,” said James Lane, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction.

State education leaders told RPS they need to add additional instructional days for struggling students to catch up. The city’s school board is debating four extended calendar options right now.

RPS will receive $123 million as part of the federal stimulus plan. About $65 million will fund 20 reading interventionists, cover extended-day instruction and create a literacy czar, among a slew of other projects.

“Our teachers need all the support they can get particularly at this moment to ensure that our students receive the kind of instruction we all want time to receive,” said Kamras.

The school board, which has been divided on a number of issues, was told by the state to take the politics out of it and work through their differences for the sake of the students.

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