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.

Give Students a Do-over

Give Students a Do-over

The pandemic hit us all hard. Students are no exception. Virginia’s largest school system is grappling with the consequences of virtual learning. A Washington Post article reported that “[s]tudent achievement is seriously off track in [English and math] from what would have been expected based on past performance. According to the analysis, 35 percent of all Fairfax students are underperforming in math, and 39 percent are underperforming in English.”

Unfortunately, as an expert said in the article, “[t]he damage done to schoolchildren with scarce resources is likely to be irreparable. The best thing the nation can do would be to offer everyone a ‘do-over’.”

You can do just that for students in your community with a Gideon Math and Reading Center. We meet students where they are at. Center owners individualize the Gideon math and reading programs to match students’ pace and needs. By focusing on foundational skills and building to grade level and beyond, we offer students the ‘do-over’ to master concepts missed over the past year and a half.

Learn more about Gideon and how you can help students in your community bounce back from COVID in our most recent webinar.

It’s Time to Improve Math Skills in Your Community

In a recent Op-Ed, Barry Garelick, veteran math teacher and author of articles found in The Atlantic, Education Next, and more, explains the importance of  “repetitive practice [that] lies at the heart of mastery of almost every discipline, and mathematics is no exception.”

Garelick goes on to explain that “iterative practice is key to attaining procedural fluency and conceptual understanding. Understanding, critical thinking, and problem-solving come when students can draw on a strong foundation of relevant domain content, which is built through the “rote memorization” of procedure.”

At a time when so many students are in need of catching up and solidifying their foundations in math and reading, “students need to be given explicit instruction on solving various types of problems, via worked examples and initial practice problems.” Read more here.

U.S. Reading Performance Declining – What Can You Do?

The NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) released new data on American students’ reading achievement. The startling information shows declining performance since 2017. Of course, the COVID pandemic has only made it worse. This is not only a present issue; other studies show how this lack of reading performance can affect the education and career choices students make in late high school and early adulthood. You can read more about EdWeek’s reporting on it here.

Solutions? ” ‘[A] large body of research has established that foundational skills are the main drivers of oral reading fluency, which in turn is necessary for reading comprehension,’ said Sheida White, an NCES researcher and the author of the study.”

Gideon’s curriculum guides students to reading mastery and success through a strong phonics program that includes daily story reading with comprehension questions.

Schools Are Grappling with Students’ Loss of Learning

A special report from EdWeek earlier this month (read it here) highlights a major stressor schools and teachers are combating this summer: hold students back or let them move onto the next grade. “[Many districts are] opting … to keep students moving forward with grade-level content, filling in the missing pieces as they go.”

The article goes on to discuss the best way to meet students where they are educationally. Research is mixed on remediation or acceleration. Should students focus on the foundational skills of previous grade levels? Or should schools move students into the next grade level and teach foundational skills when necessary for grade-level concepts?

Summer programs and high-quality tutoring can be a means to alleviate the holes in students’ foundations. However, no school is sure what is the best way to help students move past the disruptions COVID created.

Set Up Students For Success

Grade Inflation?

We’ve all heard about the effects of COVID-19, but one under-reported aspect of education, even before the pandemic, is grade inflation.

In a recent article, the “consistent push to reduce writing, reading, and note-taking, expand late work windows,” and more was examined. Shane Trotter explores the detriment these practices have on students’ learning.  At Gideon, we believe mastery learning gives students the best chance for success later in life.  All our curriculum requires a 90% accuracy to pass as we want a solid foundation to be built before moving on.  We are thinking about the student’s performance over the next 10 years, in high school and college, not just next week.

A recent study conducted at the Naval Academy showed that students learn less from easy teachers. As the researchers state, “Instructors who tend to give out easier subjective grades… dramatically hurt subsequent student performance.” While a generalization, these claims support the intuitions of anyone who has ever been to school or met a human. When students can give less effort, they do. So, why have schools been moving toward easier grading?

 

This past year, our students have learned less than ever because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the limitations of virtual learning. How much better might they have fared if they had not been trained to find excuses and expect they’d be passed along?

 

How much more important is it now to have mastery-reflective grading so that we can diagnose gaps and target them? To suggest that we should grade dishonestly is to fundamentally misunderstand the point of education. It prolongs childhood, ensures less engagement, and reinforces a culture of deferred responsibility. Nothing could be more cruel.

High Dosage Tutoring Works

COVID-19 has disrupted the education of students nationwide. Studies show high-dosage tutoring, like Gideon’s Math & Reading programs, can get education back on track.  More than ever before, Gideon centers are needed to help students catch up, keep up, and stay ahead.  Major takeaways from the linked article include:

According to the study, high-dosage tutoring was 20 times more effective than low-dosage tutoring in math. In reading, high-dosage tutoring was 15 times more effective than low-dosage tutoring.

 

Slavin, the director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins, has also looked at high-quality tutoring studies with a focus on specific instructional programs and curricula. He shared two meta-analyses, submitted for publication at an academic journal, in which tutoring programs generally rise to the top, above most classroom-wide approaches and performing considerably better than high-tech interventions that use educational software.

 

The important thing, according to Slavin, is to have some training and a tested reading or math program for the tutors to follow. “One of the things that characterizes all successful tutoring programs is that they’re very structured,” said Slavin. “There are curricula that work better than others. But there are several that get good results.”

 

“Being an effective tutor is probably more about the structure of the tutoring program itself than the type of training tutors receive or whether the tutor is a recent college grad, teacher’s aid, or full-time teacher,” said Brown University’s Kraft, who has been publicly advocating for a national tutoring corps since 2015.  “The best training is on-the-job through consistent feedback from peers and supervisors, not a week-long crash course and then being left to sink or swim on your own.”