Closing Learning Gaps With Our Lowest Performing Students

Two of the most problematic effects of the pandemic in education are the inconsistencies in instructional time and modalities of conveyance. While all students have been affected, our lowest performing students and students with learning impediments are experiencing progressively widening learning gaps. Fortunately, there are some things we can do to mitigate the loss of learning. If you are not familiar with learning gaps you may want to briefly look at what are learning gaps and Techniques For Identifying Learning Gaps before we begin.

Some of the most effective interventions and modifications are developed and applied by special education resource teachers. Since the very purpose of their work is to provide remediation for students with learning deficits, the individualized instruction they provide offers an exemplar for targeting specific learning goals for all students.

While gen-ed teachers write lesson plans, special education resource teachers write remediation plans. Consider creating a shared repository for your resource teachers’ remediation planning. The repository should reflect the learning goals (deficiencies), the standards alignment, the remediation strategies and the outcomes once applied for each special education student. General education teachers may then also find their student, copy and paste the intervention strategies applicable to the standard they are planning to teach, and apply it as an intervention during their lesson.

For students with exceptionalities, this enables best practices for interventions to be applied within the general education setting, as well as during resource services. It is also the best chance of ensuring students with IEPs are receiving instruction on grade-level. General education students receive the benefit of individualized interventions, specifically tailored to address their specific learning gaps during regular classroom instruction.

Here are the parameters to insure we can close the gaps:

  • Interventions should be selected and applied based upon each student’s individual deficiencies.
  • Interventions should be specifically noted in every lesson plan.
  • Differentiation materials should be prepared in advance of the lesson. (e.g., pre-highlighted text, manipulatives, key vocabulary definitions, place value mat, etc.)
  • Scaffolded support should have progress monitored, and be gradually removed as the student moves toward mastery.

For more see, Closing the Learning Gaps in Reading and Closing the Learning Gaps In English Language Arts.

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About Jackie Hardiesty

Jackie is a teaching and learning consultant and founder of Edify Consulting. She is a former Director of STEM Integration, Principal and former teacher.