On April 23 the Minneapolis Public Schools board of education held two meetings, a special business meeting to reconsider playground projects removed from the April 16 meeting’s consent agenda, and a committee of the whole meeting which included a brief update on the district’s intervention triad program. 

The board ultimately voted against approval of the playground projects at Kenwood, Pratt and Bryn Mawr elementary schools, scheduled for this summer. Although current district policy requires playgrounds to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it does not require additional features to make playgrounds more inclusive than the minimums set by the law. 

Sarah Hunter, executive director of strategic initiatives, said that at least 3,649 students are receiving academic support through the district’s intervention triad program, paid for with federal pandemic aid earmarked for learning loss. Overall, the district has records for 5,000 plan for academic intervention, and at least 1,000 students are part of the program in both literacy and math. Hunter said these numbers may increase as intervention educators continue to enter data into the system that tracks progress.

The intervention triad program budgeted for at least one licensed teacher and two non-licensed associate educators at each school. Schools with more students who were below grade level proficiency in reading or math, and not making typical progress, received additional teams. In total, the 133 triads could have served up to 10,000 students, based on the original expectation that each team would provide services for up to 75 elementary students or 100 secondary students.

Hunter said that 79% of the students receiving interventions are students of color or American Indian students. About 60% of all interventions are in literacy, with 70% of literacy interventions using the district’s preferred literacy intervention program, PRESS. Hunter said 97% of the math intervention plans are using an intervention program from Bridges, which is the company that provides the elementary math curriculum that the district adopted last year. 

Based on fall and winter FastBridge assessments, students receiving intervention were making less progress than students not receiving intervention. Hunter said that this is not unexpected because intervention can take more than one school year to impact assessment data. She also noted that, overall, a majority of students (including those receiving intervention and those not receiving intervention) did not make adequate progress in literacy and math between fall and winter assessments. For example, in reading, 32% of middle school students not receiving intervention made adequate progress, while 24% of middle school students receiving intervention made adequate progress.

Based on the winter assessment data, the district has made some adjustments to how the intervention teams are serving students. The district has also provided coaching for some of the intervention staff to help them better support students. The current intervention program will not continue next year, but the district has proposed adding a small number of intervention staff to schools that receive Title I funds next year.