COVID-19-related school closures and online challenges have intensified achievement gaps across the country. While some students experienced a full year of learning and were provided with necessary supports, many others weren’t as fortunate. In fact, estimates show that about three million children didn’t receive formal instruction last school year.*
Younger students suffer the most from disrupted schooling because they’re setting a foundation for the rest of their education—they’re tasked with learning more information, skills, and strategies. Additionally, these children must learn to read proficiently by third grade so they have a better chance of future academic success.
For the above reasons and more, teachers have a big undertaking this school year: to get students back on track by providing appropriate instruction and plenty of chances to practice and apply skills.
Traditionally, school staff have used three approaches when working with struggling students:
- Retention: Students repeat the academic year.
- Social promotion: Students advance to the next grade with their peers regardless of academic performance.
- Remediation: The concepts and skills students failed to learn originally are retaught.
Of these, remediation is used most often, but despite its popularity, it’s not a one-size-fits all approach. In other words, it works in some instances, but may not be the best option for others.
At this point, you may be asking yourself: What’s the best approach to help my students get on track at the start of the year? One option is acceleration. Acceleration does not reteach skills. Instead, acceleration focuses on what must be learned to tackle upcoming grade-level material. This approach readies students for soon-to-happen lessons.
Why does acceleration work? In addition to providing students with increased opportunities to access grade-level content, it also engages them by sending the message that they’re capable and they can succeed—they aren’t going backward in the curriculum; they’re moving forward!
According to Dr. David Steiner, Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and Professor of Education at Johns Hopkins University, acceleration programs:
- look forward to guarantee students will be ready for the academic year ahead;
- identify key skills needed for success—not cover all past content;
- focus on the mastery of those key skills;
- address past concepts and content in context of students’ current learning; and
- assess students to determine progress toward that mastery.
Fundations Ready to Rise™
Now more than ever, students need an opportunity to focus on essential foundational literacy skills that will help them confidently tackle the 2021-2022 school year. One such option is the Fundations Ready to Rise™ program, which is designed to provide summer reading support or an intensive boost at the start of the school year in districts using the Wilson® Fundations program as a K-3 foundational skills curriculum.
When used at the beginning of the year, Ready to Rise™ emphasizes skills taught in the beginning units of the current Fundations level. These skills are presented in three components: word study skills, transcription skills (handwriting and spelling), and application and fluency skills. Ready to Rise™ also provides many opportunities to practice these skills. Students entering first grade during the 2021-2022 school year would participate in the Ready to Rise™ program for Rising First Graders, while students starting second grade would participate in the Ready to Rise™ program for Rising Second Graders.
Considerations for Implementation
Ready to Rise™ offers teachers multiple implementation pathways depending on where their students are in their foundational skills progress and what they require instructionally. Access the Ready to Rise™ Back-to-School Implementation Recommendations by clicking here.
Once school staff are prepared to implement Ready to Rise™ at the start of the school year, they’ll no doubt accomplish the accelerated learning described and promoted by Dr. Steiner and other education experts across the field. Using the program’s purposefully selected and structured content, they’ll help young learners master the skills needed for a fruitful academic year.
For more information on how to fight COVID slide with accelerated learning, check out this case study by Dr. David Steiner and Barbara Wilson.
*Korman, H. T., O’Keefe, B., & Repka, M. (2020, October 21). Missing in the margins: Estimating the scale of the COVID-19 attendance crisis. Bellwether Education Partners.