How to Help Students who are Several Grade Levels Behind

All 2019 Wonkathon submissions are in. This year’s Wonkathon asked contributors to address a fundamental and challenging question: What’s the best way to help students who are several grade levels behind? Fordham’s Flypaper received nineteen submissions from policy experts and education practitioners. As expected, there was a wide range of solutions offered, and no two were exactly alike. Authors focused on classroom content, instructional materials, parents, data, teachers, and more. But some shared sentiments emerged, as follows:

  1. We should meet students where they are as well as teach them grade level content.
  2. If you have to choose one, though, teach students grade-level content.
  3. Before we can do anything, we need to build students’ knowledge and assess them appropriately.
  4. Intervene sooner rather than later — and get parents involved.
  5. Data can help.
  6. It’s important to talk about what teachers can do and how we can support them.

These nineteen submissions differ in their approaches, but they ultimately agree on one important point: It’s vital that we get more students achieving at or above their grade-level. 

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