Back to School: What's new in the new year for students?

Back to School Central - SmallSchool starts August 6! As always, the new year will bring some changes to Metro Schools. There will be new faces, new buildings, new policies and more. Today we're talking about a new program that will affect every student in kindergarten through eighth grade. It's very important, and parents have a role to play, too.

Tomorrow we'll talk about new schools, leaders and materials. Yesterday we talked about big changes that affect families. These lists could be updated before the first day of school, so come back to it every so often to check.

Online Parent Q&A

Wednesday, July 23 at 2pm

Ask your questions on and @MetroSchools on Twitter.

Children learn in different ways, and some need more help or direct instruction than others. On the other hand, some children need extra enrichment and greater challenges.

In Metro Schools, we want to personalize learning for all students so they are each getting the kind and level of instruction they need to reach their full potential. In order to do that, we must know where each child stands so that we can tailor instruction to his or her specific needs.

Starting this year, we will start using a new and focused process in grades K-8 to help identify each child’s knowledge of basic reading and math skills. This will allow teachers and principals to provide the interventions, enrichments and supports their students need.

The process starts with a simple and brief skills check, including both oral and written questions, where a teacher measures a student’s basic reading and math skills. This will happen for every K-8 student in Metro Schools at least three times a year: at the start and end of the first semester and again at the end of the school year.

After the skills check, the teacher knows exactly where the child stands, has identified any strengths or areas for improvement and can take concrete steps to provide the support that child needs. These next steps include multiple levels of instruction:

  1. High-quality classroom instruction – This is normal class time. All students participate in this together every day for reading, writing, and math instruction.
  2. Personalized learning time – This is when the student has additional learning experiences that support his or her identified academic needs for 30-60 minutes every day, including:
    1. Enrichment – Students in the top ten percent will participate in at least 30 minutes of higher level learning every day.
    2. Grade Level Enhancement- Students working near grade level expectations will take part in learning activities that reinforce instruction for 30-60 minutes every day.
    3. Targeted Intervention – Students between the eighth and 15th percentiles will get at least 30 minutes of intervention focusing on identified skills every day. That means small group instruction focused on specific skills in reading, writing, or math to help them close learning gaps.
    4. Intensive Intervention – Students working below the eight percentile will participate in 45-60 minutes of intervention in basic skills each day. These students are two or more years behind in learning and need highly focused strategies to catch up.

The intervention skills students will work on are:

  • Basic reading
  • Reading fluency
  • Reading comprehension
  • Math calculation
  • Math problem solving
  • Written expression

That brings us to you: the parents. You have a very important role to play in this. The more parents are involved in student learning, the more likely students will be successful in school.

If your child will be participating in skill level intervention, you will:

  • be informed about the activities planned for your child,
  • receive monthly progress monitoring reports about how your child responds to the interventions provided
  • see levels of support that increase or decrease in intensity depending on your child’s needs

You can also support your child at home by speaking with his or her teacher and asking questions about progress. These conversations will allow you to reinforce any strategies or activities at home. You can also review and help with your child’s homework and celebrate your child’s success.

So what is this called? Here comes the jargon…

This process and the supporting programs are called Response to Intervention and Instruction, or RTI2. You will hear that term used by teachers and principals this year. No matter what it’s called, the important thing to know is that your child will be getting the individual attention that will increase his or her academic achievement and growth.

Children who get the attention they need at a young age are less likely to fall behind or get bored in later grades. By addressing a child’s strengths and weaknesses early – particularly in the elementary school years – we can build the strong academic foundation that will prevent problems that tend to emerge later on.


Tomorrow in "What's New" we'll look at new schools, new principals and a new digital textbook.


Visit Metro Schools Back to School Central for everything you need for the first day of school.