Accelerated Learning: How Teachers Can Ensure Every Student is On Grade-Level This School Year

September 15, 2021
Portrait of a young teacher with her learners in the background

After COVID-19 threw learning for a loop last year, many students across the country are racing to play catch-up. But as with every journey, if you’re constantly backtracking, you’re forever running behind.

To address the educational gaps many students are struggling with, the common remedy has been remediation. Their current learning is put on hold until their teachers “re-teach” basic-level skills and bring them up to speed gradually. The problem is that when educators press the rewind button, “students who are behind, stay behind.”

A more effective alternative is accelerated learning. As opposed to teaching everything a student failed to master the year before, teachers lead the entire class in lessons appropriate for their grade level, and if needed, carve out time at critical junctions to focus only on those specific prerequisite skills and tasks necessary to understand the new content. Any additional help a student receives before or after school aligns with what they’re learning in the classroom.

 

While shifting from the status quo can be overwhelming for school districts, integrating accelerated learning into every classroom can be done effectively. By focusing on the following key elements, you can propel your students forward and ensure they’re ready for grade-level content.

  1. Determine what each student needs right now. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), school districts should prioritize key skills and core knowledge for the academic year based on frequently-used academic standards. From there, they can identify any critical skill gaps facing their students through pre-tests on specific on-grade level topics.
  2. Tailor instruction to grade-level goals. Once teachers identify each child’s learning gaps and strengths, they can leverage tools to inform instructional choices. A digital solution like Apex Learning links topic-level pretests, supporting topics and on-grade instruction together so teachers can fit online content to in-class instruction. It also provides ongoing diagnostic assessments on both a student and classroom level, allowing instructors to adjust lesson plans as needed.
  3. Use interactivity to keep students engaged and learning. A multimedia solution must center on proactive learning rather than passive instruction, presenting concepts in different ways to stir a student’s curiosity and help what they learn stick. In addition, if the digital curriculum is constructed with multiple scaffolds, students build on the skills they know and receive support as they grasp critical concepts. Struggling students no longer have to drown in watered-down content – they are challenged and empowered to reach grade-level mastery.
  4. Choose the highest-quality digital curriculum that accelerates learning. The most effective way to implement an accelerated learning program is to streamline it by working with one partner that offers a complete suite of customizable solutions designed around the learner experience. As school districts compare software solutions, it’s important to critique the comparison data between students who used the product and those who didn’t along with gains on meaningful measures like high-stakes tests. Request real-world efficacy studies from each vendor to determine how their curriculum has made a difference in school districts similar to yours.

Researchers have discovered that as schools spend time filling in learning gaps, they actually create new ones. Instead, when teachers coach students on missing skills rather than wind back to remediate losses, kids complete 27 percent more grade-level work. In addition, accelerated learning has proven to be more beneficial than remediation for children with learning disabilities and other educational constraints. By implementing the best digital curriculum for your district, you can ensure all students make meaningful progress toward grade-level content. To learn more about the best practices for selecting a digital solution for accelerated learning, contact Apex Learning today.

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