The average student who starts below grade level has a one in four chance of catching up. That means a tremendous number of students are struggling in every school district nationwide. Despite the best efforts of teachers and administrators, it is challenging to address the wide range of needs required to support each struggling student, such as those with learning gaps, below proficient readers, and English learners.
Today’s students are digitally adept and have never known a world without Google. They grew up with ubiquitous access to information and interactive tools designed to respond to their unique needs and interests. That experience informs the expectations they have of their schools and education.
English language learners are the fastest growing segment of the student population in the United States. However, many schools are unprepared to meet the diverse needs of this growing population. Inadequate funding, insufficient staff, inaccessible instructional materials, and other barriers can and do hamper even the most thoughtful ELL efforts. One of the greatest challenges in supporting English language learners’ long-term success is building content mastery and English language proficiency simultaneously, so they can perform at grade level quickly.
Districts and classroom teachers face the daunting task of meeting the learning needs of every student, accommodating for different proficiency levels and varying stages of academic readiness while ensuring students stay on track. This is a nearly impossible feat, even for the most experienced educators.
Teachers are tasked with the difficult, but important, challenge of meeting the needs of struggling students and guiding them toward increased achievement. However, it’s often impossible to give one-on-one time to every student who needs help. With a strong implementation plan, teachers can utilize digital curriculum to help them target intervention, quickly identify and remediate learning gaps, and support students in their path to college and career success.
At its heart, personalized learning is about student learning, not technology. Impactful personalized learning requires: establishing a common vision; providing educators with professional learning opportunities to successfully implement personalized learning techniques and technologies; a qualified teacher to guide and support students; and access to high-quality digital curriculum that supports student learning.
Are today’s students really ready for college, work, and life? CEO Cheryl Vedoe posed this question in a guest post for the MDR thought leadership blog, Voice from the Industry. In her column she encourages readers to celebrate the increasing graduation rates, but also to recognize the fact that many students are still not graduating prepared or ready for the next step in college and career.
“An equitable system does not treat all students in a standardized way, but differentiates instruction, services, and resources to respond effectively to the diverse needs of students, so that each student can develop his or her full academic and societal potential.” —Learning Policy Institute report
A recent article in Slate, part of a series covering the rise of online learning, profiles the author’s experience using one vendor’s digital curriculum. He was bored and unmotivated. The author also questioned the rigor of the courses, specifically the structure and how concepts were presented.
For digital curriculum to make a significant impact — to improve student outcomes through personalized learning — teachers need more than instruction in using digital tools. That’s why it’s important that school leaders dedicate time throughout the year for teachers to collaborate and share best practices for using digital curriculum to meet student learning needs.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law December 10, 2015. Since that date, districts and educators have been familiarizing themselves with the new legislation and what it will require to gain compliance before the 2017-2018 school year when ESSA takes effect.
Implementing effective digital curriculum provides an option for schools and districts to achieve the core objectives outlined in the ESSA legislation while also meeting the individual needs of every student: