We know some students need different support following 18 months of distance and hybrid instruction. This year, our teachers are committed to a strategy called grade-appropriate learning.
This strategy 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.
Historically, educators have used three approaches when a child’s learning is interrupted or is lagging:
- Retention: holding students back a grade level
- Social promotion: advancing with peers regardless of academic performance
- Remediation: reteaching material
We now have research-based evidence that these strategies do not consistently work. After Hurricane Katrina, research found that putting students in skill recovery or make-up programs only maintained or increased the learning gap. A more recent study found that remediation—beginning instruction wherever students left off when schools closed and/or giving students below-grade-level content—has not worked during the pandemic.
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:
- They have better, grade-appropriate assignments.
- They get strong instruction, where they do most of the thinking.
- They are deeply engaged in what they are learning.
- They are held to high expectations by teachers who believe they can meet grade-level standards.
We want feedback from families. What questions, concerns or comments do you have about this strategy? Participate in our ThoughtExchange to give your input.