As educators plan how they will address lost student learning during the next school year, they should forgo the traditional remedy of remediation in favor of a strategy known as acceleration, a new report recommends. The analysis was performed by TNTP, formerly known as The New Teacher Project, and the nonprofit Zearn, whose online math platform is used by one in four elementary students nationwide.

If they are coached on missing skills required, students complete 27 percent more grade-level work than if teachers try to back up and fit in unfinished material from prior years, the researchers found. Yet the children who are likely to return to school in the fall with the biggest learning losses are twice as likely in many instances to get ineffectual remediation.

The researchers hope states and school districts will consider the new data as they decide how to spend their American Rescue Plan dollars, which come with a congressional mandate to use a portion of the money to address academic gaps, both for summer programs and for the 2021-22 academic year.

Teachers are trained that remediation, the practice of focusing on missing, below-grade-level material — covering all lessons in second grade before moving on to third, for example — is the chief method for helping students who are behind catch up. But past research by TNTP and others shows it’s not effective.

Teaching grade-level material, while stopping to supply missing, underlying skills as they become necessary — acceleration — is a strategy some researchers have found promising. TNTP and Zearn say the new data is the most concrete yet to support this notion.

“It’s a counterintuitive difference,” says Shalinee Sharma, Zearn CEO and co-founder. “The simple idea [behind] remediation would be that if a child is struggling, you go back all the way to where everything is easy again and you bring them back gradually.

“Acceleration says, ‘Nope, the human brain is plastic,’” she continues. “You start with something really specific, like how do you add fractions. You drop down and teach that skill and then pop right back up.”

Read the full article about acceleration to address learning loss by Beth Hawkins at The 74.