Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Grade-Appropriate Learning

After 18 months of distance and hybrid instruction, you may be concerned about whether your student can master this year’s grade level. 

Students learn differently. Not all students were able to fully engage in learning because they had trouble adjusting to online learning. Some experienced disruptions or trauma in their lives due to the pandemic. Others found that self-paced online learning worked well for them. Many students gained valuable technology and communications skills. 

Regardless of the strengths and needs each student brings to class, we believe they can all meet high expectations. Our teachers support them every step of the way.

Highline teachers are committed to a strategy called grade-appropriate learning, which prioritizes content for the current grade level and reviews skills from previous grades only when students need them to learn current grade-level work. Teachers give grade-level assignments and help students relearn the skills that they need to be successful at this year’s grade level, rather than reteaching everything from last year.

What is grade-appropriate learning?

  • Teachers start the year with content for the current grade level and review skills from previous grades only when students need them to engage with current grade-level work.
  • Rather than reteaching last year’s content, teachers give grade-level assignments with support as needed. 
  • Think of the “Previously on...” intros that play before new episodes of a television drama. You won’t get as much of the backstory as you would if you binge-watched the past few seasons, but you get enough to keep up with the story.

Why does grade-appropriate learning work?

Research shows grade-appropriate learning is the best way to help students stay on track for grade-level learning. 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.

Research also shows us students make more academic progress when:

  1. They have better, grade-appropriate assignments.
  2. They get strong instruction, where they do most of the thinking.
  3. They are deeply engaged in what they are learning.
  4. They are held to high expectations by teachers who believe they can meet grade-level standards.

What is the difference between remediation and grade-appropriate learning?

REMEDIATION (RETEACHING)

GRADE-APPROPRIATE LEARNING

Focuses on content and standards from previous grades

Focuses on current year content and standards, with support where needed

Focuses on drilling students on isolated skills

Prepares students for grade-level content

How can families support students with acceleration?

Learn more. Review this series of family guides by grade level to help you understand what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.

Do a gut-check. Use this readiness roadmap 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.