The new semester is here, packed with assessments, school functions, and the long but simultaneously fast sprint towards the first day of summer. But there’s a lot of work to be done for both students and teachers before the final bell rings. As an administrator, these responsibilities feel even greater to keep your entire campus on track.
Beyond future staff interviews and budget sign-offs, planning for academic recovery must occur to impact current and future learning.
What is academic recovery?
Simply put, the goal of academic recovery is to identify student gaps in understanding and work to help them reach expected levels of proficiency.
Why is academic recovery necessary?
Just like a bandage won’t heal a deeper underlying condition, a surface-level fix won’t make up for serious gaps in critical student learning. The 2022 Nation’s Report Card released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed that 4th and 8th grade mathematics scores had the
largest decline since initial assessments in 1990.
It’s important to note that some student learning gaps are not solely because of a slide or “loss” in learning, but rather because students never learned the material to begin with during remote learning. According to NPR, students “
simply did not learn as much or as well as they would have in person.” With post-COVID learning deficits a reality, student struggles need to be identified and acted upon in order to see change.
How can I support academic recovery as an administrator?
Identify areas of need
Using student academic growth data, classroom information (such as formative assessments or weekly grades), and assessment results, partner with your teachers to identify which students are in need of right-now interventions, along with what skills require the most attention.
Encourage your teachers to dig deeper into why a group of students are struggling to understand a concept. Perhaps they never mastered the prerequisite skills (like math fact fluency, for example) in prior grade levels that now serve as building blocks for the present-day material they are trying to learn.
Determine an action plan
After identifying the key learning gaps to target, determine what student progress should be made and by when. Set clear goals for your academic recovery plan with defined checkpoint dates to ensure everyone stays on track.
Action steps will look different for each campus depending on staff and student body size. Here are some ideas to set your recovery plan in motion.
Tutoring: Targeted skill groups can meet before school, after school, or during academic classroom time with more focused, one-on-one interventions from a teacher. Be sure the tutoring is thoughtfully timed so teachers aren’t missing planning time to meet with a small group. If teachers are stretched thin, consider utilizing academic aides, volunteer retired teachers, or other staff members to assist with targeted recovery practice.
Differentiation: Classroom and homework assignments that are modified to meet different student needs can help students catch up and master skills at their own level. Differentiated materials can be helpful for math remediation as students work to master foundational concepts.
Funding: Recovery efforts often involve new resources, man hours, or technology. Getting creative with funding can help make some goals possible.
Involve students and parents
Communicate with families the efforts your campus is taking to help students catch up and thrive after years of far-from-ordinary learning. Family partnerships will make recovery stronger, as students might have to complete more work at home or attend tutoring sessions. Be sure to emphasize that you share a common goal: to help their child succeed and reach their full learning potential.
Celebrate the power of a growth mindset on your campus. Help teachers reinforce to their students that everyone learns at their own pace and that growth is fun, but often requires hard work.
Embrace the process
Academic recovery requires time and patience. Recognize that results will not be instant, and be on the lookout for examples of successful remediation and growth to celebrate as a campus.
Academic recovery requires planning to best support small groups and one-on-one interventions. But your teachers plan lots of things–lessons, assessments, conferences, and more. Need a quick icebreaker activity to start your next faculty meeting with a laugh? Have your staff take this quick quiz to find out their teaching planning style.