Louisiana Key Academy
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
STOP Award Finalist
Decoding dyslexia down in the Bayou, even during a pandemic
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this public charter school knew that their 441 students with dyslexia would need an individualized kind of education during the pandemic, and they moved expeditiously to do just that.
About Louisiana Key Academy
Louisiana Key Academy is a public charter school which uses evidence based instruction to successfully serve students with dyslexia in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. Sixty percent of LKA’s over 440 students are economically disadvantaged and 70% are minorities. When they apply, 100% of parents report that their child is failing in school or is struggling significantly with reading. Parents report that their child’s self-esteem is impacted by failure or inability to read on grade level. LKA changes their trajectory, and plans to grow in Louisiana and nationally.
What they did to Counter Covid’s Impact on Students
Because students with dyslexia require intensive, small group instruction by trained teachers to make and sustain academic progress, LKA had to find a way to minimize the risk of COVID transmission and return to “in person” learning. Within three weeks they had provided all the necessary resources and training of parents and teachers to carry out live, small group virtual instruction. By July of 2020, they were the first school to reopen in the state, serving all students who desired in person learning from July of 2020 through June of 2021. Due to our weekly COVID testing, LKA was able to remain open for the entirety of the year, and did not have to close the school at all during the year due to COVID. As a result of these efforts, 80% of the total student body maintained or increased their reading fluency.
“Without permission, in July of 2020, we were the first to open our doors for eleven months of in-person learning.”
Thanks to evidence-based education, Louisiana Key kids are unstoppable!
How they STOP-ped for Students
Designed Innovative Dyslexia-related Virtual Instruction
LKA needed to create a specific kind of program for these special learners, while at the same time solving the connectivity issues everyone else was facing. Today a school wide virtual learning platform is in place to mitigate future challenges and drive more innovative learning for this unique subset of students.
Developed a New App and Dashboard
In collaboration with local health experts, families, teachers, and school leaders, LKA developed a symptom-app and web-based dashboard to allow parents to assure the school that their child was symptom free daily prior to entering the building and to be able to maintain their 12:1 teacher to student ratio, to ensure the continuity of small-group learning for each student. Their in-person learning plan was recognized by the Louisiana Department of Health, who used LKA’s best practices to guide other schools who were struggling at adapting because of the pandemic.
Continued Academic Success in the Face of Adversity
With the availability of both in-person and virtual programs throughout the summer on top of an intensive instructional year, the students at LKA made monumental academic growth during the pandemic, with 80% of the student body improving their reading fluency from the beginning of the year. At a time during tragic and noticeable learning loss throughout the nation, the in-person education that was provided by LKA was comprehensive, safe, and transformational for students with dyslexia.
And if they win the $1 million Prize?
Right now, Louisiana Key is bursting at the seams. With a million dollars, LKA would seek to expand their Baton Rouge campus, start up a second site and add multiple schools around the state so that every major community has an LKA to offer parents of dyslexic children a choice. Each school would serve up to 450 additional kids. LKA also has plans to finish, publish, and implement their new curriculum nationwide, which is under development in collaboration with the Dyslexia Resource Center. This new curriculum will allow their replication to be more precise, sustainable, and outstanding for current and future students everywhere.