Learning Loss or Acceleration? Regardless, Lean into the Learning Needs

As more return to the schoolhouse, there has been much rhetoric regarding how to think about meeting the needs of our students, and hopefully that includes freedom thinking about the future of schooling.  For many there is a loss, a loss on many fronts, in addition to the generalized concept of learning loss. Fiercely some systems advocate for intervention while others identify with the frame of acceleration. Nonetheless, with clarity of thought, many educators defend that it is ultimately quality over quantity in this fixation. Dean Pam Grossman at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, with her unwavering lens on equity, recently wrote a moving opinion article “Want to Improve Learning Outcomes? Give Students More Time gets to the heart of this imperative when she states, “While we compute the extent of these effects, I worry about our failure to question the logic of expecting ordinary outcomes in an extraordinarily disrupted year.”  She further connects to the research on high-quality teachers and the longstanding importance of academic engaged time.  

Diving deeper into her own state’s examples, we continue to stay with Pennsylvania to see how they are articulating their theory of action for the return.  Pennsylvania DOE has taken the perspective of an “Accelerated Learning through an Integrated System of Support”, providing a voluntary process and research foundation  for school leaders to consider in preparing for the upcoming school year. Their plan wisely addresses both academic and emotional well-being of students.As you consider your system’s needs, the concepts addressed in Pennsylvania’s DOE Accelerated Learning plan may support your reflection and action. These foci provide perspectives to address:

  1. Identifying and planning for a reset of school operations systems including health and safety, instructional models (in-person, virtual) teaching and learning;
  2. Building a welcoming, safe and supportive community for students and teachers in all learning settings;
  3. Identifying where students are entering school academically;
  4. Aligning assessments, curriculum, and instruction to help each student progress; and
  5. Developing teachers to support all students, particularly those most vulnerable.

How might you use perspectives with your data system to lift up your continuous improvement, acceleration, and disruption of loss in your learning setting?