Dec 9, 2022

The Accelerated Learning Work Group Discusses Literacy and Math

Chris Dwyer
Capacity Building Lead
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Let’s say I had trouble dividing fractions, one of the Accelerated Learning participants began, should I get remediated in all things fractions?

The simple question seems to have an obvious answer, “No,” and yet remediation is still a go-to response for many teachers. But what are the potential harms of remediation, and what might be a better solution? These are just some of the questions the Accelerated Learning Work Group analyzes, evaluates, and answers during their Informal Discussions.

During one of the Accelerated Learning Work Group’s Informal Discussions, they explored Unlocking Acceleration: How below-grade level work is holding students back in literacy and Catching Up and Moving Forward: Accelerating math learning for every student.

The two reports investigated acceleration versus remediation and how these differing teaching styles are affecting students’ performances. Remediation is “where students practice skills they did not master during previous grades,” whereas Accelerated Learning “engages in just-in-time foundational support connected to the grade-level content they are learning.”

The Work Group participants thoughtfully discussed the research conducted in these two reports about literacy and math, building off of each other’s expertise and personal experiences as educators.

While both resources presented research heavily in favor of Accelerated Learning, they also took a closer look at the demographics commonly receiving remediation.

Unlocking Acceleration found:

  • Schools serving predominantly marginalized students were assigned the most below grade-level work.
  • Schools serving students in poverty gave less access to grade-level work even when students showed they could master it.

Catching Up and Moving Forward found:

  • Students in majority Black, Latinx, or low-income schools were more likely to be remediated than white and high-income peers.
  • Students in majority Black, Latinx, or low-income schools struggled 19% less in math when they experienced Accelerated Learning.

One member of the group described it as a “self-fulfilling prophesy,” that even when students of color show they can do the work and succeed, they still often get held behind.

Other members noted an opportunity gap when it comes to math. Some schools have students who want to take the classes but lack the qualifying teachers, while other schools have the qualifying teachers, but students aren’t given the chance to take a higher level class unless a parent or administrator advocates for it.

Not only are math and literacy essential subjects in school and in life, they also fuel all other subjects. When a student falls behind and stays behind, it can affect their vocabulary, background knowledge, ability to succeed in the sciences, and more.

In many cases, understanding the trajectory of learning is key to finding the correct intervention. When teachers have access to personal development and the proper tools, they can help their students achieve so much more. That is why the Accelerated Learning Work Group strives to inform educators and the public about the value of Accelerated Learning while producing guides, resource lists, and toolkits to help teachers and students stay one step ahead.