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'Time is really important' | APS adds extra 30 minutes to school day to make up from pandemic

Scott Elementary is using the time for custom made learning

ATLANTA — As students across Georgia struggle to recover from setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, one school district is using time and custom fit teaching to improve test scores.

At Scott Elementary School, 4th grader Ja’nina Braxton insists remote learning during the pandemic wasn’t that hard, but she knows something knocked here and others off track.

“I needed to catch up on fractions in math because I wasn’t very good at it in third grade,” Braxton said.

Test scores show students all over Georgia took a hit.

As a result, the Atlanta Public School system added 30-minutes to each school day. Schools are allowed to choose how they spend the time.

Scott Elementary calls the added time W.I.N., or What I Need. It’s time used to focus on the areas where each student needs help.

“We’re not focusing on the standards,” teacher Ashley Mohammad said. “It’s easier for me as a teacher to focus on specific skills that these students need.”

Students are evaluated then divided into small groups dictated by their particular needs.

“Maybe you’re great in multiplication but fractions really isn’t your thing,” Principal Langston Longley said. “That’s the level of specificity we need to apply.”

Every educator in the building spends that half-hour tending to the individualized needs of the students.

Longley says in August, only 37 percent of his students could meet proficiency scores in math. Now, it’s 60 percent.

He says a lot of the credit goes to that extra half-hour.

“That time is really important, and then intentionality behind what we’re doing with that time,” Longley said.

Although she can’t fully grasp what knocked her off track, Ja’nina Braxton says she’s more than caught up.

“I’m able to do fractions and multiplication and now I’m working on division.” 

It’s the kind of progress that comes with time.

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