At Live Oak Elementary School, students converge in a room where they can find resources, activities and even make friends to ensure they are given the necessary tools to succeed and learn.
The Castaic Union School District created learning centers on all its schools about three years ago, according to Superintendent Steve Doyle. The intent behind these centers was to create a space where general education and special education students could interact with one another and receive support in areas of improvement whether it was mathematics, literacy, homework help or building social skills.
“A learning center is a designated set of classrooms where a diverse group of educators provide multi-leveled instructional support to all students,” said Kim Tredick, assistant superintendent of educational services. “The learning center is a place for all students.”
The learning centers are based on students’ needs and kids are grouped according to those needs, added Tredick. General education teachers and education specialists co-teach in the same room to provide services for students and support them.
The Castaic district monitors student progress and utilizes diagnostic exams to identify and place students in a tiered system that indicates the level of support they may need.
A student in Tier 1 needs universal instruction, a student in Tier 2 might need targeted and group intervention and a student in Tier 3 would need individualized intervention, according to Tredick.
Last year due to COVID-19, the district implemented a hybrid model in which students would be able to access a learning center. Students had online instruction and limited in-person assistance in high-priority areas, Doyle said.
“There was scheduling issues, but overall, it was successful,” Doyle said.
Each learning center is different depending on student needs, added Doyle.
“If we have a group of fifth graders who are struggling with foundational reading, we prioritized their needs at the learning center,” Tredick said. “The whole school’s schedule (around the learning center) is adjusted in order to prioritize the needs of students.”
Stephanie Beach, principal of Live Oak Elementary, said they returned to in-person learning and they were able to start their learning center model exactly as they wanted to.
On Fridays, Live Oak Elementary hosts lunch bunch. The school provides lunch for students and they get an opportunity to make new friends and develop their social skills.
She said they have two special education specialists, two general education teachers and other staff members rotating throughout the day to serve students.
“After school, students come in with homework or we work on any skills they need help with, and this adds an extra layer of support,” Beach said.