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[Teacher Tips] Implementing an Acceleration Plan to Address Unfinished Learning

[Teacher Tips] Implementing an Acceleration Plan to Address Unfinished Learning

As educators plan how they will address unfinished learning this fall, new research from TNTP (The New Teacher Project) shows that they should forgo the traditional remedies of remediation and intervention in favor of a strategy known as acceleration. So, what is acceleration? The U.S. Department of Education’s ED COVID-19 Handbook describes acceleration as a focus on quickly diagnosing gaps in critical concepts that may impede students from accessing grade-level coursework. Students on an acceleration plan learn material appropriate for their current grade level and relearn only the skills and lessons from earlier grades that are vital to understanding the new content.

Krista Lasky, one of Edmentum’s elementary K–5 virtual teachers and EdOptions Academy 2021 Teachers of the Year, shared some of her insights about acceleration. Krista provided tips and tricks that have led her to success.

Utilize multiple data sources to identify students in need of acceleration and diagnose specific needs.

We look at a variety of data to determine students who are performing below grade level. First, we look at their performance and progress grades in their regular coursework. Second, we use teacher-created progress monitoring during live lessons. Next, we review progress in Exact Path, Edmentum’s K–12 adaptive diagnostic assessment and individualized learning path solution. After reviewing/using all the data, we are able to identify those students who are not performing at the expected level. As soon as a student’s performance level shows us the need for more intervention, we discuss with all parties and begin a plan for the student.

Partner with additional stakeholders and parents/guardians to get students back on track and monitor progress.

We work closely with the districts and guardians to monitor the students’ progress on a daily or weekly basis. We typically request that a student attend live lessons daily and/or one-on-one or small-group sessions. We continue to provide feedback and support for daily coursework.

Keep students engaged with supplemental lessons and daily feedback to promote creativity and critical thinking.

Engaging students on an acceleration path is often done through supplemental live lessons designed for students who need more support. The live lessons are fun and engaging, and they encourage critical thinking and creativity. We also give daily feedback on assignments/projects that are positive and encourage students to continue to develop their skills and ask questions when they need support. Teachers work hard to create a positive environment for students so that they are willing to ask for support and do their best to make progress. Our curriculum has built-in projects throughout each unit that offer the students a more creative way to show off their skills and knowledge of concepts. The projects are a great tool for students who need acceleration and a different way to display the skills they’ve learned.

Embrace the challenges, and build strong student/teacher relationships.

For teachers who are new to this approach, I would encourage them to embrace the challenges and differences that we have with online learning, adopt a growth mindset, and remember that, above all else, we are here for the students. In the end, even though they may look different, the relationships that you build with your students will make all the difference in their world.

During this unprecedented school year, it is still possible to offer students challenging and stimulating learning experiences that will accelerate their return to grade level. Attempts at achieving this goal will provide significantly better experiences for many students, even if the process is imperfect. Educators are here to support students, and although challenges are an inevitable part of the educational process, it is important to remain optimistic and look forward to progress.

Check out our blog post Acceleration vs. Remediation vs. Intervention: What’s the Difference? to get an understanding of these different terms and see how they can relate to your acceleration plan.

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Debbie Crawford

Debbie Crawford joined the Edmentum team in 2019 as a Customer Support Representative. After a year of providing direct support to educators each day, Debbie transitioned into the Marketing Specialist role to further her impact for educators. As a First-Generation College Student from a small, rural Texas town, Debbie greatly values education and the educators that go above and beyond to inspire students to pursue learning both in and out of the classroom. Debbie has nine years of experience in arts marketing and was the first woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from Hardin-Simmons University. Her goal is to learn something new every day and to inspire others to do the same.