Dr. Winsome Waite and Angelica Jackson of Phoenix School for the Arts lead this CoP anchor on 7 key instructional strategies for accelerating student learning. Working with DCSC members from 8 DCSC members, this CoP produced a Padlet resource.
Longstanding academic inequities have ballooned into a nonstop barrage of concerns about “learning loss,” “unfinished learning,” and the ever-present fear of students falling further behind grade levels. The academic achievement gap doesn’t have to haunt educators in the same ways as before! Dr. Winsome Waite and Angelica Jackson are leading one of our Communities of Practice on accelerated learning.
What do you mean by “accelerated learning”? Why is this important?
Angelica: Considering the tumultuous multi-year global crisis, we need to lean into innovation and alternative instructional practices. Accelerated learning is a framework that offers all students the opportunity to access rigorous, grade-level instruction, using what we know about the science of learning and development. I’m co-founding the first charter school of Charles County Public Schools, specializing in arts education. Like many DCSC members, my passion as an educator centers on inclusion and a student-centered curriculum. We can’t have an effective diverse-by-design model if we aren’t implementing accelerated learning into all pieces of school infrastructure. The one-size-fits-all classroom doesn’t work, and neither does the within-school segregation in typical academic tracking models.
Winsome: Even with the best of intentions, stratifying groups of students risks leaving some further behind and ultimately excluding them from accessing grade level content. We don’t need to shut out access to, say, 6th grade pre-algebra for the students labelled as “not ready.”
“Accelerated learning puts equity at the center of teaching.”
We can use strategies where all students get the best resources and “just in time” instruction, with differentiation, push-in instructional support, technology—there are so many possibilities for school leaders to diverge from traditional remediation. We must diagnose and identify gaps that are necessary for essential grade level content and apply the necessary dosage, time, and interventions, rather than fall back on tracking, which according to research, widens academic achievement gaps. Accelerated learning puts equity at the center of teaching.
What are you looking forward to in working with DCSC members?
Winsome: I am excited to foster peer-to-peer collaboration. Although I have worked with K-12 leaders at state, district, and school levels in nearly all 50 states, DCSC members are unique in their shared goal of intentional integration by design. As a facilitator, I’m eager to hear about how applying the science of learning and development plays out among member schools, particularly when it comes to equity.
Angelica: Based on my conversations with a few DCSC members and staff, I look forward to hearing about how DCSC school leaders have been innovating and adjusting with their curricular needs. School has started, and folks already have data showing where their students are falling short of grade level standards. Curriculum is my bread and butter, and we’ll be centering the experiences of every participant in the group when it comes to implementing rigor and accelerated learning in the classroom.