Helping Special Ed Students: Your Calling

Special education and students who receive district-provided interventions have long been in the news, even before the pandemic started. It’s no wonder the pandemic made learning even more difficult for these students though. In fact, the Department of Education recently found that the Los Angeles Unified School District failed to adequately provide and track special education services during remote learning in the early school years of the pandemic.

This may be the first of many instances of the federal government’s cracking down on lackluster special education services. Although school districts were between a rock and a hard place with the pandemic, many parents feared “they were forced to largely go it alone, [and] fear[ed] lost academic and developmental progress for their children as a result.”

This situation highlights the need so many students in communities across the nation have. With Gideon’s emphasis on self-paced, individualized, and mastery-focused learning, students in and out of special education can get the help they need to be successful in school.

You can read more about this here.

Needed: Stable, Passionate Educators

We’ve all seen the headlines about teachers leaving their profession in droves over the last two years. “Highly qualified teachers and administrators will find other professions that not only pay better but also publicly value their skill sets and do not subject them to constant abasement,” says an instructional specialist writing for the Hechinger Report.

Schools continue to be at an unfortunate impasse: “Qualified teachers will disappear, and in their place instruction will be conducted either by less experienced teachers or by substitutes. Students will suffer, and not just academically; the revolving door of adults circulating through classrooms will increase the social and emotional challenges for students who need stable teachers to rely on.”

We can all agree that our kids need strong, passionate individuals to teach them now more than ever. Thankfully, students and parents can look in and out of school for these people. Turn your passion for education into a lucrative business with Gideon.

America’s Reading Slump is Nothing New

The Hechinger Report recently came out with an article detailing the slump in reading ability across grades and demographics. Surprisingly, this trend did not emerge with COVID.

Even before the pandemic, reading achievement was in a slump. In 2016, U.S. fourth graders slid seven points on an international reading test, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). Analysts noted that reading scores of the lowest achieving students had been declining for a decade, and that the 2019 losses — especially steep among low performers — had erased 30 years of progress.

[A Massachusetts teacher] now reviews kindergarten-level phonics with her second graders. On a recent day, a student held up flashcards at the front of the class and led her peers in a call and response chant through the alphabet. In a normal year, the exercise would have been scaled back by this point, Woll said. “But because of the pandemic, I’m still doing those letter sounds every day.”

Educators and researchers are weighing three theories on what is responsible for the decline: money, instruction or reading itself. None of these possible causes are quick to fix. That’s why a Gideon center is needed now more than ever in your community.

Secret to Success: Long-term Memory

At this point in the pandemic, we can see that “educators are looking at a long game, perhaps three or more years during which schools must do their core work better.” As the Los Angeles Times points out “[i]f we simply return to pre-pandemic methods, that won’t happen — because before the pandemic, we weren’t really following the science.

What does the science tell us? “Shift to include much greater emphasis on the knowledge of facts…’The very processes that teachers care about most,’ like critical thinking and problem solving, ‘are intimately intertwined with factual knowledge that is stored in long-term memory,’ writes Daniel Willingham, a cognitive scientist at the University of Virginia.”

Long-term memory is built from repetition and chunking of information. Moreover, students can use their long-term memory to create connections between mastered concepts and novel material. Without a robust long-term memory, students can struggle to fully grasp new topics taught in accelerated programs, which many schools are using this year to catch students up.

With a strong phonics-based reading program and an emphasis on chunking and automation in math, Gideon provides a stout curriculum that develops students’ solid long-term memory. Additionally, we pride ourselves on the systems and support for center directors to individualize the program for each student.

Find the LA Times article here.

With So Many Options, How Do Schools Choose?

School is back in session. Parents and students are muddling through the ups and downs from school closures due to outbreaks to kids getting to see their friends and schoolmates in person. Schools and districts prepared as best they could “to do something different for the 2021-22 school year to make up for those losses.”

The Hechinger Report came out with a quick review of options along with their pros and cons. “No catch-up strategy can possibly benefit all students. But studies do point toward which strategies are most effective, how they can best be implemented.”

What is at the top of the list? Tutoring! Not just any tutoring though, “Research points to intensive daily tutoring as one of the most effective ways to help academically struggling children catch up.” While acceleration, remediation, longer days, and smaller class sizes are all being used and studied, high-dosage, low-ratio tutoring has shown time and again to be a successful approach for most all students.

“Education researchers have a particular kind of tutoring in mind, what they call “high-dosage” tutoring. Studies show it has produced big achievement gains for students when the tutoring occurs every day or almost every day. The tutors are specially trained and coached and adhere to a detailed curriculum with clear steps on how to work with one or two students at a time.”

“A 2020 review of 100 tutoring programs found that intensive tutoring is particularly helpful at improving students’ reading skills during the early elementary years, and most effective in math for slightly older children. One 2021 study found tutoring led to strong math gains for even high school students, enabling those who started two years behind grade level to catch up.”

Gideon can provide you the systems to train staff to provide quality tutoring, the curriculum to fill holes and gaps, and the support to make you the best center director for your community.