As school systems focus on bringing students to grade level learning as quickly as possible, diagnosis of gaps in student learning to provide interventions and supports will result in student progress towards grade level competencies. At the heart of classroom-based learning acceleration is a true commitment to youth engagement and differentiated instruction where teaching and learning takes place at grade level, with teachers providing varying degrees of scaffolds and supports to help students access the content and acquire skills. By schools prioritizing learning outcomes, new instructional strategies, and access to targeted and intensive interventions provided by other adults to ensure supports are individualized, educators will feel supported in the critical tasks at hand. A student-centered, whole child approach and a classroom environment where students are truly known and valued will lay the groundwork for more systemic, equitable education for all students.
- How do we differentiate instruction so all students can work on grade-level assignments?
- What student supports will best address learning gaps?
- What are the most important grade-level knowledge and skills students need to master?
Have a plan for learning acceleration
Create a plan that focuses on accelerating students to grade level by using proven strategies to help them learn and practice the knowledge and skills that are most important for grade-level mastery.
Schools can use this learning acceleration guide from TNTP + Add to Action Plan to create their learning acceleration plan.
Identify high priority content and skills
Determine which content should be the highest priority based on what students will need to deeply know and understand to demonstrate readiness for the next grade.
Student Achievement Partners (SAP) have outlined which content + Add to Action Plan areas should be highest priority.
Support students in doing grade-level work
Establish the expectation that supports and interventions are designed to help bring students to grade-level content and skills. Recommend that curriculum and teaching materials are at grade level once supports and interventions are in place to support students in meeting this expectation.
Assess proximity to grade level at the start of the school year and design supports and interventions accordingly. FutureEd’s Blueprint for Testing + Add to Action Plan guides districts through what assessments to prioritize (page 10) and use of assessment data to accelerate of classroom learning and corresponding supports (page 11).
Create a shared understanding of grade-level work
Through professional development and curriculum revision, work on creating a shared vision of what grade-level curriculum and instruction looks like. In many instances, past curriculum starting points may need scaffolding to bring students to eventual grade level.
These assignment review protocols + Add to Action Plan from TNTP, useful for PD or content meetings, share tools to help instructional leaders and teachers determine if an assignment gives students the opportunity to engage in grade-level content and can create shared understanding of grade level.
Develop scaffolds to accelerate learning
To accelerate learning for various learning levels, scaffolds are temporary instructional supports designed to help students successfully access grade-appropriate activities just beyond their current independent ability. While scaffolding can be used for a whole class, it is more often applied when individual students need specific supports.
This from Expeditionary Learning helps ELA teachers + Add to Action Plan use front-end scaffolding (i.e., preparing students to better understand how to access complex text before they read it) and back-end scaffolding (i.e., helping students deepen their understanding after reading a text).
This Achieve the Core resource helps math teachers + Add to Action Plan diagnose the root cause of grade-level challenges and design targeted scaffolds and interventions to address them.
Provide educators with data
Creating strategic data cycles from assessment data will support schools in optimal prioritization. Educators need diagnostic data to inform them of students’ mastery of grade-appropriate knowledge and skills. Curriculum embedded assessments (CEAs) should support the more formalized summative and interim assessments. CEAs are tied to the curriculum and occur on a shorter cycle, so they help assess what is taught and provide insights that inform instruction.
Continual formative assessment will help teachers and schools assess progress towards grade level. This article from Edutopia + Add to Action Plan outlines seven key formative assessment strategies that teachers can implement using templates and links in the article.
This interactive step-by-step data tool + Add to Action Plan from Great Schools Partnership helps academic leaders and teachers harness data to inform instructional practices.