Most elementary classrooms are currently structured with a teacher using a curriculum set by the district to teach a classroom of 25 to 30 of students. It is the teacher’s responsibility to move the pace along quickly enough that children who understand the course material are challenged, while ensuring that children who don’t understand get the instruction they need. For average-paced learners this might is effective; however, for children who are advanced or falling behind, this can be problematic, even in the 1980’s envisioning of the skills of the children being fairly “normally distributed” in a classroom (Figure 1).
This “whole class” or “teaching to the middle” is even more concerning when it is laid over the more likely distribution models of skills within a classroom (Figure 2 and 3). Research has determined that individualized instruction, like Learning Ovations provides, is 4X more effective than traditional “whole class.”
The parents of children who are excelling or falling behind are often placed in a very difficult situation. These parents have a limited amount of time to make sure their child catches up. When a child is in kindergarten through the end of third grade, their instruction is focused on learning how to read.
Children who do not read well by the end of 3rd grade fall behind in the fourth grade when their instruction shifts to reading in order to learn. These struggling children are 23% more likely to drop out of high school, and among those students the incarceration rate is 63% higher than the rate for college graduates. On the flip side, parents whose children are successful readers struggle with their child’s education as well. Often, if not challenged in the classroom, their child will become bored and find other ways to entertain herself. This can lead to acting out, apathetic behavior and a general feeling of dissatisfaction with their education.
Parents in either of these situations often don’t know what to do next. They purchase the latest programs, apps or books to try and further their child’s instruction, they spend more time reading with their child and in some cases spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on tutors and continuing education. Unfortunately, there has been very little research on what the correct method is to ensure a child learns to read, until now. This research shows that the keystone factor to producing results is to change the teacher’s focus from teaching to the average student to focusing on individualized instruction, based on each child’s specific needs. The long-standing one-size-fits-all teaching method does not allow students who are excelling to move ahead and does not help the students who are falling behind to catch up. Unfortunately, with a single teacher educating between 25 and 30 students at a time, teachers have been left with few options.
Through our research, Learning Ovations has developed a system that addresses each of these difficulties that teachers face:
The first step is to teach teachers how to organize and structure their classroom using groups based on each child’s skill set. We have developed the A2i software, an innovative technology that helps the teacher see exactly what kind of instruction each child needs based on their assessment scores, then supply teachers with recommendations for each child’s individualized activities, and manage that information over time as the child improves.
Using this technology support, we have seen literacy rates shift from 66% of students reading at a basic level to all students reading at basic or above AND the percentage reading at proficient or advanced skyrocket from only 34% to fully 75% of the children in the classroom! On average, students were two grade levels ahead of their peers in the control group by the end of third grade.
While parents may take temporary comfort in knowing there is conclusive evidence showing exactly what their child needs to be successful that is tempered by the immediate question of what to do next. How do parents make sure their child has every opportunity to benefit from this research and technology? One parent from Panama City, FL took matters into her own hands and reached out to both Learning Ovations and her school to connect the two. From there Learning Ovations took over and has been able to supply the school with everything they need to implement this innovative new system in the 2013/2014 school year.
Learn about Learning Ovations’ Kickstarter campaign to build an app that can bring this research and technology to teachers by the 2014-2015 school year.