With cohorts cutting student learning time, year-long education proposed

The exterior of the Guam Department of Education in Tiyan Barrigada in Tiyan, Barrigada. PNC file photo

The Guam Department of Education has returned to face-to-face classroom instruction. However, instead of the traditional five-day schedule, the school week has been divided into two cohorts in order to minimize the number of people inside schools at a given time.

This has led to a drastic reduction of student learning time, leading some Guam Education Board members to express concern that the quality of student learning may be suffering.

Because of the cohort schedule, GEB member Robert Crisostomo said students are essentially getting only a quarter of their education and he has proposed the adoption of year-round education to remedy this.

“Has anybody been keeping track of how many days students are actually losing? I believe students are in school just two or three times a week. They’re like getting a quarter’s worth of instruction for the year. Yet, we’re going to graduate a whole class of seniors to go to college,” Crisostomo said.

With the current schedule, Crisostomo said GDOE may not be providing the students with the skills necessary to be successful.

“We need to close the gap on the education that’s missing. It’s going to take a while to catch up. But we got to catch up somewhere and summer school doesn’t do it. I know I’m probably going to get pushback from the teachers because they want their vacation, But we are here for the students. Their success is our success. So I’m proposing the adoption of year-long education,” Crisostomo said.

He added: “Summer should be a chance for our kids to catch up with what skills they have not learned during the regular school year and close that gap.”

For her part, GEB member Mary Okada said GDOE needs to track down individual student progress.

“We need to track these kids, we need to know where they left off because when they come back they should be able to slide right into whatever the courses were that everybody else is. What happens if a shutdown extends for a month or a month and a half? We just need you to be able to track where students are independently and individually,” Okada said.

Superintendent Fernandez said he is taking in all these proposals by the members of the GEB board.

“Of course, we stand by to have that discussion with them, should they move forward with that line of thought. But at this point, there has not been any decision made to extend the school year for any online or face-to-face learning,” Fernandez said.