Despite some gains over the past 20 years, significant numbers of students are not meeting grade-level expectations as defined by performance on academic assessments. Meanwhile, few schools are able to support the sort of accelerated academic learning needed to catch students up to grade-level expectations.
Evidence indicates this is not for lack of educator commitment or dedication. Instead, many educators lack clarity about how to help students catch up. Common messages about holding a high bar for academic rigor and personalizing learning to meet students where they are can be perceived as being at odds with one another.
“Unfinished: Insights From Ongoing Work to Accelerate Outcomes for Students With Learning Gaps,” synthesizes a broad body of research on the science of learning in order to inform efforts to help students close gaps and meet grade-level expectations. This deck argues that helping students catch up is not about rigor or personalization — classrooms need both.
Closing learning gaps requires students to be motivated and engaged to grapple with challenging, grade-level skills and knowledge — while also having their individual learning needs met.
The report identifies what must happen among educators, systems-level leaders, teacher developers, instructional materials providers, and technology experts to move beyond the dichotomy of “rigor versus personalization” and toward a future that effectively blends the two.