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Delano Union Elementary School District Bounces back post pandemic in an astonishing way

The Delano Union Elementary School District worked hard at the start of the pandemic to minimize learning loss. The hard work has allowed students to nearly match their 2029 test scores.
Posted at 1:41 PM, Mar 11, 2024

DELANO, Calif. (KERO) — Staff from DUESD worked hard to prepare students and teachers how to manage school during the pandemic. Their hard work now have students matching their test scores from 2019.

  • Video shows the process and ideas that the Delano Union Elementary School Distrcit took at the start of the pandemic and how it has allowed students to catch up at an alarming rate.
  • while some districts are still trying to catch up, kids from DUESD have already nearly matched their test scores from 2019.

Learning loss was a concern for school districts everywhere during the pandemic, but the Delano Union Elementary School District took a course of action that had students across their district achieving what other districts are still trying to do. With students nearly matching test scores from 2019, district officials say it was more than just focusing on academics.

“When we were at the peak of the pandemic we were actually doing calls so all the teachers had a log and were calling and then after a while we realized you can only do so much through a phone call so then teachers going and were knocking on doors, leaving things behind ‘here’s your homework’ or even saying hi,” said Data analysis for Delano Union Elementary School District Jose Maldonado.

Neighborhood News Reporter Ruby Rivera interviewing Delano Union Elementary School District Data Analysts Jose Maldonado
Neighborhood News Reporter Ruby Rivera interviewing Delano Union Elementary School District Data Analysts Jose Maldonado

Maldonado says making that human connection even if it was just for a minute made all the difference in the way students responded to these changes. He says it also encouraged kids to be more involved in school as students were shown how invested their teachers were, in turn, decreasing the districts chronics absentee rate.

“We were at a high of 30% of chronic absentee so think about what that means thats 10% or more of the days absent for a child and now we’re under 10% because of all the efforts,” said Maldonado.

4th grade teacher at Nueva Vista Elementary Maria Ceja says being able to put a child’s emotional well being before the lesson benefitted kids

“If they’re emotionally stable, then we can teach a lesson. We can have the best lessons ever but if our kids are not okay emotionally there’s no point in that lesson,” said Mrs. Ceja. “So, one of the things I say we did as a district we took the kids where we were and we went ahead.”

Mrs. Ceja says more mental health services became part of the district’s curriculum. Students doing weekly emotional checkins — kids who needed more assistance would show up as a red flag and Mrs. Ceja says that would alert teachers, staff, and social workers to check in with that child and tend to their needs.

Although this was a game changer for the district and its students — Mrs. Ceja credits the children for being able to adjust to these changes.

“I can understand my teacher better and she makes the topics more understandable because last year in third grade I did not know how to do long division and now I mastered it,” said 4th grader Emily Duran.

Emily says although she did feel like some of her skills regressed during the pandemic — her teachers patience and assistance have allowed her to feel more confident in her academics.

And students like Emily succeeded across the district. According to studies from the Educational Opportunity Project, it only took DUESD a year to recover from the decline in mathematics during the pandemic.

A closer look at the California Assessment Student Performance results shows the districts ELA levels at 42.55% and math at 32.66 in 2019. But in 2023, ELA levels were at 42.48% and math was at 29.85%. Essentially making up for a majority of their learning loss.

School officials say they believe it was not only their quick thinking at the start of the pandemic but also the love, compassion, and patience given to students. Saying now, the focus is to continue this upward trend for all students.


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