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Grade level instruction to ALL students during core content time 

LKSD Best Practice #5

Our students are going to stay behind grade level if we never give them the opportunity to try to close their learning gap. In LKSD we want to focus on acceleration rather than remediation. 

Key Features 

  • Assignments are grade level appropriate

  • Students have a reason to express engagement and interest in what they’re learning

  • Strong instruction that enables students to do most of the thinking and creative questioning during the lesson

  • Teacher expectations reflect the belief that students can meet and maintain grade level standards

Acceleration vs. Remediation

On the first day of school, many students are already behind.  What students already know when they start school can be a strong predictor of how well they will learn new curriculum. Concepts, skills, and vocabulary from the previous year, and the grades levels before can haunt students' efforts to acquire new information.

 

The following explanation is borrowed heavily from Learning in the Fast Lane by Suzy Pepper Rollins: remediation, the correction of deficiencies, attempts to fix everything that has gone wrong in students' schooling—to fill in all those missing pieces.  Remediation is based on the misconception that for students to learn new information, they must go back and master everything they missed. So, for example, all of the students who are weak in math—probably determined through a pre-test—are brought together and assigned a teacher who will reteach them basic skills. The students who have the largest gaps and are thus the most academically vulnerable are sent the furthest distance back.  In the end, this remedial model may produce a student who can finally reach the basic skills they missed but at the cost of never catching up with their peers.

 

This failure to move forward can lead to decreased student motivation. Aside from the fact that students who have already grown to dislike the subject that they have had remediation in now have additional classes in the subject they despise, it's difficult to feel motivated when there's no apparent progress.  Boredom creeps in, and students often give up and/or shut down.

 

The primary focus of remediation is mastering concepts of the past. Acceleration, on the other hand, strategically prepares students for success in the present—material from this week, or relating to the content at this time. Rather than concentrating on a plethora of concepts that students have failed to master, acceleration readies students for new learning. Past concepts and skills are addressed, but always in the purposeful context of future learning.

 

Acceleration jump-starts underperforming students into learning new concepts before their classmates even begin. Rather than being stuck in the remedial slow lane, students move ahead of everyone into the fast lane of learning. Acceleration provides a fresh academic start for students every week and creates opportunities for struggling students to learn alongside their peers.

If we want our students to perform on grade level in math and reading, we have to allow them to engage with on-grade-level tasks that align with research-based practices and ensure appropriate rigor. When students are given age-appropriate challenges, it encourages them to think critically and problem-solve, thus advancing their cognitive abilities. 

Center for Academic Review. (2023). The importance of giving students grade-level work. Region 7. 

Strategies

  • Provide difficult but achievable tasks

  • Ask students to try again

  • Reinforce growth mindsets

  • Use language that meets students where they are while still exposing them to age appropriate skills

We highly recommend using either the 99 Ideas and Activities or the 99 More Ideas and Activities books to help you identify additional instructional delivery and interaction strategies.  

Both texts are aligned with the SIOP model and can be used to support different components of instruction as needed. 

Look in your school for these books or send us an email to request an additional copy. 

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