More Resilient Instruction: Paving the Path Forward with Adaptive Blended Learning
Unlike school, there will be no bell that rings announcing the formal end to the pandemic. It will certainly end, but not in a tidy or clear-cut way. In the meantime, life goes on and that includes educating the nation’s students and speeding the recovery of any learning lost during the disruptions.
The experience of the past two years has taught us many lessons we’ll want to apply moving forward. One overarching lesson is the importance of education continuity, regardless of the learning environment.
As schools shifted to dynamically changing and remote learning models, it became clear that many districts did not yet have sufficient technology, data, and tools educators would need to sustain continuity of learning at pre-pandemic levels despite decades of technology purchases. This was particularly true for teachers with students already struggling to read.
An open question as educators returned to school was the scope of the problem. In an educator survey Lexia® Learning conducted last fall, about 71% of educators felt students would not be prepared for grade-level content or were unsure of students’ preparedness starting the 2021-2022 school year. Understanding the scale of unfinished learning, and what supports students will need for literacy instruction, was going to be difficult given that districts have limited ongoing assessment data from this period.
So, what are the best practices, plans, and preparations to ensure continuity of learning across multiple platforms and environments? Edtech offers a pathway to both educational continuity and accelerated learning. But it has to be the right edtech, proven to get students back on track, as well as to ensure they are prepared for the future.
Here is what schools should be looking for in edtech that can deliver student-centric instruction and accelerated learning—anywhere.
Meeting students where they are, and moving them forward
Adaptive blended learning was around before the pandemic, but the rush to remote instruction brought it to the forefront. Blended learning models combine teacher-led instruction with computer-assisted instruction, so it was a natural fit for distance learning. The adaptive part of adaptive blended learning is how the presentation of material is modified in response to student performance. It is a bridge to personalization.
That personalized instruction is how edtech like Lexia® Core5® Reading and Lexia® PowerUp Literacy® have the flexibility to be effective in many different teaching models, not just remote or hybrid situations, due to their adaptive instructional model.
One feature of adaptive blended learning that many educators appreciate is the empowerment teachers find in tools that support personalized pathways for learning. Edison Township Public School District in New Jersey selected Core5 to support its blended learning model in part because empowering teachers was a priority. As Lashay Johnson, Edison Township’s supervisor of elementary and RTI, explains, “Much of the success that we are having is due to the fact that Core5 works in harmony with our classroom teachers, and provides a seamless integration in the classroom.”
That empowerment is fueled by real-time student progress data that reveals students’ specific areas of struggle. Both Core5 and PowerUp provide ongoing visibility into student performance with integrated Assessment Without Testing®.
Assessment Without Testing addresses educator’s limited access to ongoing assessment data which impedes personalized instruction. This embedded assessment tool essentially functions as a behind-the-scenes teacher’s helper, helping them more accurately map out where students need support. With this tool, assessment is less disruptive, more personalized, and less labor-intensive, saving teachers up to a month of instruction time since they are not stopping instruction to administer a test.
When educators have such robust, actionable data, it allows them to plan, prioritize, and provide individualized instruction using rigorous content that is research proven to be effective. For Edison Township, it was a choice that paid off: As a result of the district’s effective use of the program, there was a substantial increase, 60% to 94%, in students working at or above grade level in Core5 in less than one school year.
Proven performance for the future
Education’s hard-won flexibility from the past two years will inevitably be put to use again. Being prepared to ensure educational continuity despite scheduling impacts, such as a weather event, is a resiliency worth having.
To better maintain continuity, districts can leverage the flood of federal relief funding. Here are two criteria educators should be looking for as they consider edtech investments for the future.
- How did the product perform under the pressures of the pandemic?
During the pandemic, more than 40% of students using Core5 exceeded MAP Growth targets, and more than 80% did not have learning loss. These results held true across all student demographics.
- Does it meet the efficacy ratings that make it eligible for that federal funding?
Both Core5 and PowerUp received a “Strong” rating, the highest available, from Evidence for ESSA and the National Center on Intensive Intervention.
Evidence-based edtech is proven to help teachers help students, regardless of the learning environment or classroom model. The series of relief bills mean that federal funding will be available for the next few years, so now is the time to make an investment in literacy edtech that will allow educators to position their districts for the future.
Adaptive blended learning is a resilient model
While no educators want to repeat the experience of distance learning during a pandemic, there is a silver lining in what educators learned about the efficacy of adaptive blended learning and its role in the continuity of learning.
Edtech has been a hot topic for decades, but during remote instruction more educators gained firsthand experience with adaptive blended learning platforms and saw its benefits for personalized learning. As students return to the classroom, the same programs are a proven solution to accelerate learning and help close opportunity gaps.
Resilience is a strength we want to instill in students. It is also a capability we should build into instruction. Edtech that enables reading progress in any teaching mode, and that meets the rigorous efficacy standards required for federal funding, is a worthwhile investment for districts; one that will allow schools to ensure educational continuity, no matter what comes.