After Years of Learning Disruption, New Report Shows Learning Acceleration is Best for Catching Kids Up and Moving Them Forward in Math

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 9:00 AM EDT

New Zearn research shows that students engaged in learning acceleration practices learned more and struggled less compared to students in classrooms that used remediation.

NEW YORK, Aug. 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- As the nation works to collectively get students back on track after pandemic-era learning disruptions, new research provides promising evidence that learning acceleration can help all students catch up and move forward in math.

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Powered by two years of pandemic-era, math-learning data, researchers found when a student is consistently accelerated, they complete twice the amount of grade-level lessons and struggle less in their math learning.

"We decided to conduct this research as a way to deepen our support for teachers who are contending with more than two years of disruptions and are forced to make intervention decisions for each student, each time they struggle," said Shalinee Sharma, Zearn's CEO and co-founder. "This research gives us hope that with the right learning strategies students can catch-up and move forward with their math learning."

Key findings in the report, Catching Up and Moving Forward: Accelerating Math Learning for Every Student, include:

  • a student that experienced consistent learning acceleration completed twice as many grade-level lessons over the course of the year compared to a student who was frequently remediated.
  • a student struggled 17 percent less when they experienced learning acceleration versus when they were remediated.
  • a student enrolled in a majority Black, Latino or low-income school was more likely to be remediated when compared with their peers in a majority white or high-income school.
  • a student enrolled in a majority Black, Latino or low-income school struggled 19 percent less when they experienced learning acceleration versus when they were remediated.

Researchers looked at the same student multiple times over the course of two years and compared how they responded to both learning acceleration and remediation practices. They observed 600,000 individual elementary- and middle-school students, across all 50 states,  and analyzed 5 million intervention decisions for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years.

With the more traditional practice of remediation, students practice skills they did not master in previous grade-levels before moving forward. Learning acceleration, by contrast, begins students with grade-level learning, and when knowledge gaps arise, provides just-in-time support connected to the grade-level lesson.

This report builds on previous data research from Zearn, which provided one of the first direct comparisons of remediation and learning acceleration, analyzing progress in math across 6,000 elementary classrooms over the 2020-2021 school year. The report, Accelerate, Don't Remediate, which was co-published with TNTP, included some of the first empirical evidence at scale that acceleration produces different, and more promising, results than remediation.

ABOUT ZEARN

Zearn is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization behind Zearn Math, the top-rated math learning platform used by 1 in 4 elementary-school students and 1 million middle-school students nationwide. Everything we do is driven by the belief that every kid is a math kid. For more information about Zearn, contact Anna O'Sullivan, director of communications, at pressinquiry@zearn.org.

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