The Acceleration Imperative

A new resource from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, The Acceleration Imperative: A Plan to Address Elementary Students’ Unfinished Learning in the Wake of COVID-19, aims to give the nation’s chief academic officers and other educators a head start on planning for that recovery, with a particular focus on high-poverty elementary schools. It has four key design principles:

  1. Many students—especially the youngest children in the highest-need schools—will require extra help coming out of the pandemic, particularly in the form of extended learning time, high-dosage tutoring, and expanded mental-health supports.
  2. That extra help should complement, but cannot replace, what students need from schools’ core programs, such as high-quality curricula and positive school cultures.
  3. To make up for what’s been lost, we need to focus on acceleration, not remediation. That means devoting the bulk of classroom time to challenging instruction at grade-level or higher, and giving all students access to a rich, high-quality curriculum in English language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, the arts, and more.
  4. Decisions should be guided by high-quality research evidence whenever possible.

The document is intentionally a work in progress. Though it already contains thoughtful advice from several dozen instructional leaders and scholars, Fordham’s goal is for this model plan to continue improving with the help of practitioners and other readers — via crowdsourcing through a wiki site named CAO Central. American public education may be divvied up into 13,000 districts and 7,000 charter schools, but that doesn’t mean we need to work in isolation. As with other open- and crowd-sourced efforts, the idea here is to address common challenges together.

For more, see:

For the wiki, see: