We know that school disruptions can lead to learning loss. We have been working hard to prevent learning loss and ensure all students have the opportunity to be engaged and supported in grade-level learning, using research-based strategies.
Historically, educators have used three basic approaches to address learning loss: retention (holding students back a grade level), social promotion (advancing with peers regardless of academic performance) and remediation (reteaching material.) We now have research-based evidence that these strategies do not consistently work.
Hurricane Katrina presented a similar but smaller-scale situation of unanticipated school closures and learning loss. Educators found that learning at a typical pace or reteaching content only maintains or increases the learning gap.
Highline teachers are implementing a strategy called acceleration.
Acceleration does not mean teaching faster. It means providing grade-level assignments, with supports as they are needed. Across a sample of more than 20,000 assignments reviewed by TNTP, when students were given a chance to try grade-level work they rose to the higher bar more than half the time.
What might that look like in the classroom?
Third-grade students might have missed their unit on fractions. Understanding fractions is a critical concept for students, but repeating the entire third-grade unit isn’t necessary. In an acceleration framework, a fourth-grade teacher could provide a few lessons on understanding fractions as a quantity and understanding equivalence with common denominators or common numerators (third-grade content) before moving to the major work of fourth grade.
Seventh-grade students may have missed their statistics and probability unit in sixth grade. Seventh-grade teachers would not reteach the unit, but would pull the most basic concepts that are relevant to seventh-grade work. For example, the most important sixth-grade skill for students to recover is their understanding of measures of center, such as mean. because in seventh grade students use measures of center to draw inferences about a random sample. Doing a multi-week sixth-grade statistics unit isn’t necessary. Students may only need one or two lessons on this sixth-grade concept to be ready to tackle the work of their grade.
Please note, these examples are broad, and your students' learning sequences may vary. If you have specific questions about child’s learning, please reach out to your teacher and school to learn about how acceleration is being approached in your child’s class or program.
How can you support your student with acceleration?
Learn more. Here are a set of guides to help families understand what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.
Do a gut-check. Use this tool to get a “gut-check” from home and learn how your child is doing on key skills
Review current work. Compare the assignments your child brings home with those identified as “strongly aligned” in this student work library.
How can you partner with your school on your child's learning?
- Make sure you know the best way to reach your child's teacher. Connect regularly to share progress.
- Connect with other families to learn more about their experiences.
- Talk with your child to learn their perspective. Share concerns and bright spots with your child's teacher.