H.R. 133 and the American Rescue Plan will give schools a major monetary boost this year. The two measures offer more funding to public education than any other in recent memory, revitalizing the education space. In previous blogs, we have looked at the categories that schools and districts must target with funding, but it is administrators who will largely determine which categories to address and how to address them. The broad leeway comes with great responsibility, of course. Decisions surrounding funding use will shape the future of education for years, and academic outcomes will be analyzed in light of those decisions.
This is the perfect time for educators to reflect on what has and hasn’t worked over the years leading up to the pandemic. Fortunately, options for improving the learning process and school environment abound.
One major focus will be learning loss. Over the past year, educators and the general population have turned their attention to learning loss, but it is in fact a longstanding issue rooted in social and racial inequity. Now is the time to establish methodologies that serve the full spectrum of students instead of a narrow segment.
Scaffolding is one such method. As the name implies, scaffolding entails providing various kinds of support for students as they learn new material. Support can take the form of picture vocabulary, reviews of fundamental concepts, visual aids, real-world connection activities, and many other techniques and tools. The variety and flexibility of scaffolding is, in fact, one of its strengths. Scaffolding is inherently adaptable to different learning needs because it is predicated on the understanding that each classroom includes a range of academic levels. This feature makes it a powerful tool for differentiation.
To effectively scaffold, teachers must first identify their students’ learning gaps. Benchmarks can help you do this by providing valuable data on student comprehension and performance. By purchasing benchmark tools, schools and districts will have concrete data they can use to plan targeted lessons.
STEMscopes Science offers evidence-based benchmark assessments in the form of rigorous beginning-of-the-year and year-end benchmark tests, as well as numerous assessment-bank questions available anytime during the school year. STEMscopes Data Analytics allow teachers to quickly determine how to re-teach, accelerate, and flexibly group students.
STEMscopes Math offers four kinds of benchmarks: pre-assessment, mid-assessment, post-assessment, and quantile. A pre-assessment benchmark measures students’ grasp of standards from previous grades; mid-assessment evaluates their understanding of grade-level standards and those from previous grades; and post-assessment focuses on their comprehension of all grade-level standards and can be used as a predictor of student performance on state tests. The quantile benchmark evaluates students’ mathematical performance, suggests the content the student is ready for, and tracks their progress as the teacher administers various assessments.
Schools must target funding on pandemic learning loss and learning loss caused by inequity, both of which can be addressed through academic summer programs. Almost every scope (lesson) in both STEMscopes Math and STEMscopes Science is scaffolded. Moreover, the STEMscopes curriculum as a whole is an excellent resource for mitigating learning loss. One helpful feature in STEMscopes Math and STEMscopes Science, for example, is the addition of Intervention and Accelerate to Roger Bybee’s traditional 5E model. Intervention is an opportunity for teachers to slow instruction down and give students time to digest new content. Intervention naturally complements high-dosage tutoring, one of the most effective methods of mitigating learning loss, because it provides guidelines and resources for dynamic, interactive small-group instruction. To get a preview of small-group intervention and other aspects of our curriculum, head over to stemscopes.com/math and stemscopes.com/science.
Teaching is one of the most important professions in the world. Period. Plus, it’s one of the hardest jobs out there. With that in mind, it makes sense to provide all the resources teachers need to develop and hone their generation-defining craft. Now, under HR 133 and the American Rescue Plan, professional development (PD) is an approved category of funding. Of course, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all professional development program, which is why STEMscopes tailors professional development to the needs of each school district.
We see professional development as an exciting journey that leads to more students with a lifelong passion for STEM. The journey starts at a bird’s eye level, with an assessment that identifies your district’s strengths and challenges and how they influence learning outcomes. We then collaborate with the district to develop short-term and long-term goals that pinpoint teachers’ specific needs. After planning the implementation of the PD strategy, we create a plan for sustainable success. We continue to check in with your district and ensure that everything is smooth sailing.
We care deeply about the success of your students and the teachers who work with them every day. We’ll never leave you in the lurch. Never back down from a challenge. And never quit on you.
There are some big challenges ahead for everyone in education. It will take a concerted effort to address pandemic-related learning loss and learning loss stemming from inequity. H.R. 133 and the American Rescue Plan will help us do just that. We can use this opportunity to re-evaluate our ways, keep what works, and fix what doesn’t. This may be the beginning of a bright new era in American education.