Student Achievement

Want to Accelerate Students’ Learning? Don’t Forget About Wraparound Services

By Alyson Klein — June 27, 2022 2 min read
Female high school student running on the stairs leads to an opportunity to success
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

School and district leaders pushing for accelerated learning may not be thinking about the role that wraparound services for kids and their families—mental health counseling, food banks, transportation, and small group instruction—play in making sure their efforts are successful.

But they should be, concludes a report presented at the International Society for Technology in Education’s annual conference here.

Those wraparound services were pivotal to the success of Lindsay Unified, a high-poverty school district in California’s central valley, where students generally made progress during virtual instruction, even as kids in other districts with similar demographics lost academic ground, said Beth Holland, one of the study’s authors and a partner at the nonprofit Learning Accelerator in an interview.

The strategies can be applied to the kind of accelerated learning many districts are focusing on now.

If “we aren’t addressing the real needs of the whole child, how are we going to expect them to be able to engage in [the] kind of deep learning” needed for acceleration, she said. She and her co-author, Caitlin McLemore, an education technology consultant, analyzed historical data from iReady, an instructional platform which offers online assessments, to determine how Lindsay students fared during the pandemic.

See Also
Image of a digital device.
Marianna Ivanenko/iStock
Classroom Technology Accelerating Learning: Tech Advice to Make It Happen
Alyson Klein, July 20, 2021
7 min read

Particularly eye-catching: While in many places, students classified as English language learners, migrants, or homeless, struggled during the 2020-21 school year, in Lindsay Unified those students generally advanced academically.

“These differences in progress are striking and certainly a testament to the efforts of the district to ensure that learners continued to grow during distance learning,” said the report.

When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, the district made sure every child had a working Chromebook and access to the internet, and provided paper, pencils, books, crayons, and more to students at home.

What’s more, even when schools remained largely virtual, the district allowed small cohorts of students to return to the building where they could participate in online learning in a classroom along with a handful of their peers and a paraprofessional or other staff member who could help ensure that the virtual instruction went smoothly.

Parent communication was also a cornerstone of the district’s strategy. School counselors and staff told the researchers there was “regular, constant” communication with families and care-givers through text messaging, phone, evening Zoom meetings, and even home visits.

Lindsay Unified does not have particularly high student achievement compared with more advantaged districts. And elementary school students generally advanced further than older kids.

Still, Lindsay’s emphasis on wraparound supports—and the study’s focus on student progress rather than overall achievement—could provide a model for other districts looking to strengthen and evaluate their acceleration efforts, Holland said.

“I think the big piece is that it’s replicable, this idea that we are focusing on growth rather than a single test score,” Holland said. “And how do we really celebrate that progress? Because when we think about acceleration, we want to accelerate growth. We’re not necessarily trying to accelerate a number.”


Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum What Will It Take for Schools to Get Better?
Find out what educators and leaders can do to incite lasting and productive change that will make a difference in the lives of students.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Achievement What the Research Says Academic Recovery From the Pandemic Will Outlast Funding by Years
While student achievement has begun to rebound, new data show a long road to return to pre-COVID performance
4 min read
Conceptual illustration of a sitting child casting a long COVID-19 shadow
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and fedrelena/iStock
Student Achievement What the Research Says 5 Things to Know About How the Pandemic Has Deepened Summer Learning Loss
Studies show the so-called "COVID slide" and summer learning loss can exacerbate each other, but schools can help break the cycle.
5 min read
Gears floating away from the inner works of a silhouetted young woman
Student Achievement Spotlight Spotlight on Tutoring
This Spotlight will help you understand tutoring as an academic recovery tool, discover how districts can expand tutoring access, and more.

Student Achievement From Our Research Center Academics or Fun? Principals, After-School Providers Differ on Priorities
Principals are twice as likely as after-school program providers to say academics should be the top priority.
4 min read
Kyengye Asende (left) and Donat Jean, both sixth-grade students at John P. Fishwick Middle School, celebrate completing a worksheet during an after school program for English learners at the middle school on February 14, 2022, in Roanoke, Va.
Kyengye Asende, left, and Donat Jean, both 6th grade students at John P. Fishwick Middle School in Roanoke, Va., celebrate completing a worksheet during an after-school program in February for English language learners.
Heather Rousseau/The Roanoke Times via AP