Dear KIPP Texas Families,
As a valued member of the KIPP Texas family, I’m excited to share a few updates with you as we are on the cusp of a successful beginning-of-year launch with more than 4,000 staff who are ready to welcome more than 33,000 Little KIPPsters in person across our four regions.
We are entering this school year with excitement and determination. We are excited because we will be back in-person with our KIPPsters. We are confident in the continuation of our health and safety protocols to keep our school communities safe. We are determined because we have unfinished learning to promptly address as a result of the pandemic. The last school year was undoubtedly tough for our students and staff; so, we are preparing to exponentially support our students with equity, excellence, and always with empathy.
We have a challenging road ahead of us to reach our academic goals. While, in comparison, our KIPPsters typically outperform the state and most local districts, this was not a typical year. In many areas, our KIPPsters performed lower than local districts and the state, and in some areas they outperformed their peers. There is so much complexity around STAAR scores this year – test participation rates, number of virtual vs in person learners, access to the test, the challenges our families experienced during COVID, and so much more. We know that our Little KIPPsters are not defined by a test score. The most important take-away from our data is that there is a lot of work ahead of us to ensure our KIPPsters are college-ready. We are determined to overcome learning gaps and accelerate our KIPPsters’ progress as we double down this year across our organization on academic and socio-emotional recovery.
Academic Recovery Update
As we launch the academic year with a BANG, we have a robust academic recovery plan, which includes the use of our $136.5 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. These federal funds are one-time, multi-year supplementary disbursements intended to respond to the student learning loss of the COVID-19 pandemic by investing in academic recovery, unfinished learning, and emotional support for our KIPPsters.
KIPP Texas’ Academic Recovery Plan has five core anchors that are the foundation of our critical investments.
- Brave and Belonging Spaces: Address trauma and bolster mental health supports by adding mental health staff in our schools.
- Foundational Literacy and Writing: Teach students to read and respond to authentic, rigorous texts on grade level in preparation for 3rd grade through strategic and purposeful small group lessons aligned to the science of teaching reading.
- High Impact Tutoring: Regular, targeted small-group intervention during the school day, designed to keep students on grade level.
- Acceleration Academies and Summer School: Extend learning time by offering small-group summer school and in-year Saturday instruction to a targeted group of students.
- High School Secondary Writing: Support our students as they grow in their writing abilities and engage in rich writing experiences across content areas in our high schools.
While reflecting on the last school year, we can proudly say that we made every effort to take care of our staff and students emotionally, mentally, and physically while maintaining a healthy and safe environment. I am proud of the fact that we provided every Little KIPPster with a Chromebook; we served our communities by providing over one million Grab n Go meals; we provided financial assistance to families during the winter storm, and we invested in the professional development of our future School Leaders. We provided a safe, equitable environment with well-rounded support as our students experienced unimaginable trauma throughout the pandemic and racial reckoning.
As we leverage equity, excellence, and empathy in our day-to-day interactions and investments, create brave and belonging classroom environments through the practice and implementation of culturally responsive instruction, and consistently prioritize safety, I believe that we will increase our student achievement to recover academically. We have lots of work to do, and with your support, and that of our entire community, we will get there.
HB 3979 Update
I also want to take this opportunity to also provide a quick update on HB 3979 (commonly referred to as the “critical race bill”) that was passed into law during this year’s Texas Legislative Session. This law goes into effect on September 1, 2021 and, if unchanged, would limit our ability to teach and provide a diverse curriculum, ideas, historical perspectives, authors, and discussions critical to students’ success. You can read more about the impact of this law in KIPP Texas’ joint statement here.
Texas legislators are currently in a special session where a bill (SB3) has been introduced that would change aspects of HB 3979. While we don’t yet know the ultimate outcome of HB 3979, as an organization, we remain committed to being anti-racist and to setting our teachers and students up for success. Once we know the final outcome of the law, we will provide an update if our classrooms are impacted. If you would like to share your views on these measures, please sign up to be an advocate and our Advocacy team will inform you when there are opportunities to get involved.
Back-to-School and Health & Safety Protocols Reminder
Last week, we shared our 2021-22 Health & Safety Guidelines and this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document with answers that we anticipate you’ll need. If you have a question that is not answered here, please enter your question(s) using this form, and we will update our FAQ document with the answer(s).
Please review these safety guidelines with your children, and visit our Back-to-school and Health and Safety webpages on the KIPP Texas website for all the details to get you ready for the start of school on August 16!
Sign up for KIPP Texas’ Statewide Communications Service – SchoolMessenger
KIPP Texas uses SchoolMessenger, a communications system to send text messages and e-mails, to keep our Team & Family informed with details and announcements about events, school closings, safety alerts, and more.
Please sign up for this free service (standard message and data rates may apply) by texting “Y” or “YES” to 67587. We know that text messages can be the most effective way to reach our busy parents, and by signing up, we can communicate with you quickly.
By texting “Y” or “YES” to 67587, you are consenting to receive text messages from KIPP Texas. However, only the phone number listed in SchoolMint as the guardian’s contact phone number will receive the text messages. If your phone number needs to be updated, please contact your school and provide the correct contact number and then text “Y” or “YES” to 67587 from that contact number. Once you’re signed up, if you want to opt-out, you can do so at any time by simply replying “Stop” to one of our messages.
I can hardly believe that our KIPPsters will be back with us in less than two weeks! We are excited for the start of the year and focused on teaching and leading with equity, excellence, and empathy while addressing our KIPPsters’ academic and socio-emotional recovery. Thank you for your partnership, support, and preparation so we can have the strongest start possible.
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