LAUSD Superintendent Outlines 100-Day Plan for Academic Recovery, Relaxes COVID-19 Measures

By Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
February 26, 2022Updated: February 27, 2022

LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) new superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, said he will prioritize academic recovery for students, outlining his short-term plans on Feb. 24 to close learning gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help LA students catch up with their education, Carvalho—who previously served as superintendent of Florida’s largest school district for 13 years—released a “100-Day Plan,” which includes shifting some of the district’s focus and funds from pandemic safety measures to academic performance.

“The level of academic regression [and] unfinished learning that has piled up is impressive and devastating to the lives of a lot of students across the country,” Carvalho said last week during an award event where he previewed the 100-day plan.

In terms of COVID-19 measures and related funds, the superintendent said he will soon scale back some costly public health measures—such as COVID-19 testing for students and staff—and reallocate the funding to learning programs, though he didn’t specify a timeline for the shift or which projects will get the funds.

The district continues offering weekly testing for all students and staff for now.

Based on the most recent projection, COVID-19 testing and contact tracing will cost the district about $527 million by the end of the year—four times the amount projected in June 2021, according to a report by school officials during a Feb. 22 LAUSD Board of Education meeting.

However, the district is currently administering between 80,000 and 90,000 tests per day, about three to four times more than its June projection.

Carvalho’s 100-day plan to close learning benchmark gaps consists of four parts: learn, assess, communicate, and act. More specifically, his team will learn from the community, assess the next steps with staff, and then act on those steps by communicating and engaging with the school community.

Carvalho will start with “listening opportunities,” or community discussion sessions, to gather ideas for LAUSD improvements from students, parents, and staff.

His office will then assess student learning, school facility, and staff conditions and work with the district’s stakeholders to develop a plan.

The district will also focus on engaging parents and create a “Parent Academy,” an independent online learning program with courses to help parents navigate the school system and find the best course of action for their children’s education.

Carvalho plans to expand preschool and kindergarten schools—as early education is critical in laying a good foundation for more advanced-level learning later, he said—in the district’s underserved areas.

“If we want to boost graduation rates, start investing in early-childhood education programs to minimize that gap that many students come into schools with as a result of all the factors that we recognize impact their ability to learn or their readiness for elementary education,” Carvalho said earlier this month.

According to an LAUSD spokesperson, only about 48.2 percent of kindergarten students met the state’s early literacy benchmarks in the 2020–21 school year, a 5.1 percent drop from the previous school year.

The district also plans to add more students to school bus transportation, offer year-round school options, and identify which students in the online study program should return to in-person learning, to make arrangements accordingly.