When a school year ends, assessments are done to determine successes and shortcomings.
For Broward County Public Schools, the 2021-2022 school year was marked by students getting reacquainted with classrooms, many of them having fallen behind academically, and the district had to deal with a shortage of teachers caused by early retirements during the pandemic.
The school year was also successful in getting the district over the pandemic hump and on the way back to normal.
As children were dismissed at Oakridge Elementary School, I asked parents how they viewed the school year.
“It was excellent, I feel they did good with security, it was really hands-on with the kids, it was a great school year,” said Steve Chery, whose son attends the school.
Across town at South Broward High School, we saw a car decorated with balloons, a senior leaving school for the last time. Her mom was satisfied with the school year.
“At the beginning, it was a little hard because they were used to do the assignments from home, but little by little they start getting it and I think they did really good,” said Caroline Arroyo.
The superintendent called the year “challenging.”
“I am incredibly proud of our teachers, and our staff and administrators, this has truly been one of the roughest years we’ve ever dealt with in our careers,” said Dr. Vickie Cartwright, superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, acknowledging what many teachers saw in their classrooms.
“I had kids not try, and not even care to try,” said Kristin Murphy, who teaches law at Nova Middle School.
“I feel like this year definitely had its challenges, the students were lacking academic stamina that I feel they had more of before the COVID slide,” added Tara Terribile, who runs the veterinary program at West Broward High School.
Murphy said she’s never had so many discipline issues in her classroom.
“Kids came back from covid not remembering what it’s like to be a student and what they can and cannot do and how school differs from home, they forgot that they can’t eat when they want to, talk when they want to, get up and leave the room when they want to,” Murphy said. “At this point, teachers are really, really, really fried.”
“But I’m looking forward to next year and coming back and hoping that some of those struggles from this year have improved as time goes by and we’ve recovered from COVID,” added Terribile.
Cartwright saluted the work of all the faculty members in overcoming the obstacles.
“You have also stayed true to why we are educators, we always go in with that guiding principle of students first,” Cartwright said.
As for overcoming the covid slide of learning losses, the only metric available now are the third-grade FSA results. They show Broward’s kids beat the state average and scores went up from the previous year, while most other districts’ scores declined. That’s not a complete picture of the academic standing of the district, so Cartwright is urging parents to make sure your kids read a lot over the summer and consider enrolling your child in one of the district’s summer enrichment courses.