Mar 28 2023

Accelerated Learning Strategies Help K–12 Students Meet Benchmarks

Educators can scaffold students’ learning to fill knowledge gaps the pandemic may have caused or compounded.

It’s one of the biggest challenges facing educators today: K–12 students who missed lengthy stretches of school because of the pandemic are still expected to meet the benchmarks of their grade level. So, a student who missed all of second and part of third grade, for example, will still be tested at the third-grade level. Without the proper preparation, this sets up students for failure and reflects poorly on school districts when low test scores come back. This, in turn, can have a ripple effect that impacts other areas, such as funding and enrollment.

How, then, can schools help mitigate the learning loss that occurred as a result of the pandemic and missed class time?

The answer is to reframe learning loss in terms of accelerated learning, rather than remediation.

The concept of accelerating learning focuses on taking a tiered approach to providing each student with the scaffolding they need to be successful, as opposed to using a blanket format of teaching, where all kids are getting the same thing.

Click the banner to customize your educational technology dashboard when you sign up as an Insider.

Accelerating Learning Relies on the Appropriate Scaffolding

The key to scaffolding instruction to meet individual students’ needs is to provide them what they need, when they need it, so they will be ready to be assessed at their current grade level. This means not spending as much time to backfill.

When there’s a point in the instruction where students struggle ­— with a skill or terminology or any other part of the lesson — educators should provide the scaffolding so students get what they need in terms of backfill. Then they should apply it to the current grade-level content and skills.

School districts have historically taken this approach for students who have struggled or had individualized education programs, but now there are large numbers of students in need of intervention.

To provide the scaffolding today’s students need, educators and K–12 instructional experts must go deep into the grade-level standards to find the essential knowledge and skills.

Assess Students’ Needs More Quickly with Technology

There are key ways that technology can help educators accelerate learning for K–12 students. To start, educators need to understand where the knowledge gaps are for their students. They must be able to build on previous knowledge, so they have to carefully assess to know what students know. Educators also must be able to diagnose these needs and track them as they change, quickly.

RELATED: Make the most of your K–12 district’s student data.

Technology can expediate the analysis of pretesting and ongoing assessments. For example, a reading program can make running records much more efficient. Instead of each student in the class reading a paragraph out loud to the teacher, who manually tracks his or her skill level, students can read a paragraph out loud to their device. The reading program then instantly churns out a score or assessment for each student, often with suggested instructional tips for the teacher.

While almost no one is advocating for more summative testing, students need to be assessed informally more often to provide educators with formative diagnostic data that can be used to appropriately accelerate learning.

Thoughtful Purchasing Decisions Support Accelerated Learning

One of the challenges for school districts is they’ve spent so much money buying instructional support materials. As educators, we like stuff. We like the shiny things. And while there are many avenues for funding schools can pursue that will allow them to accelerate learning, leaders with purchasing power must ensure they’re investing in the right technology.

One of the services CDW Education offers through its education strategists is helping school districts assess their needs and maximize the purchasing power of their funding sources. We ask questions that lead school leaders to think about tech in a more cross-functional way.

We’re ultimately helping people use technology effectively and think about the long-term implications of what they’re purchasing. When schools are more thoughtful about what they’re purchasing, it can go a long way toward giving students what they need to get back on track.

This article is part of the “ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series.

[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology

AzmanL/Getty Images

Become an Insider

Unlock white papers, personalized recommendations and other premium content for an in-depth look at evolving IT