Special Report

Tackling Learning Gaps This Fall: Advice for Teachers

June 22, 2021
RESET SERIES 3 SQ Illustration
Most students will return to in-person schooling this fall, and teachers around the country are feeling the pressure to get their classes back on track academically. In this special report, Education Week picked three specific problems of practice centered on students who are entering key transition points:
  • Foundational literacy and numeracy
  • 9th grade algebra, which research connects to later success in high school
  • English-language acquisition

These stories explore how educators can rectify gaps at these critical moments in students’ schooling—while keeping the focus on grade-level learning.

Reporters: Liana Loewus, Ileana Najarro, Stephen Sawchuk, Sarah Schwartz, and Madeline Will
Designers/Visual Artists: Laura Baker and Vanessa Solis
Project Editors: Liana Loewus and Stephen Sawchuk
Visuals Project Editor: Emma Patti Harris
Series Editor: Lesli A. Maxwell

Sources: Education Week spoke with dozens of sources for this series. They are, in alphabetical order: Rose Aldubaily, director of EL and compensatory education for Dearborn public schools in Michigan; Angelica, a parent in San Antonio, Texas; Adam Arents, the parent of a kindergartner in Chicago; W. Steven Barnett, the senior co-director and founder of the National Institute for Early Education Research; Jolie Brouttier, a 1st grade teacher at Downtown Elementary in Bakersfield, Calif.; Stephanie Case, parent in Dansville, Mich.; Laura Chang, an interventionist at Vicksburg Community Schools in Vicksburg, Mich.; Shelbi Cole, senior math specialist with Student Achievement Partners; Gloria Corral, president and CEO of the Parent Institute for Quality Education; Nell Duke, a professor of literacy, language, and culture at the University of Michigan School of Education; Ameena Elder, language & literacy/SIOP trainer for Dearborn public schools in Michigan; Amaya Garcia, deputy director of preK-12 education at New America; Maria Garcia, EL teacher at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington D.C.; Amy Getz, interim director of K–12 education strategy, policy, and services at the University of Texas at Austin’s Charles A. Dana Center; Carrie Gillispie, a senior P-12 research associate at the Education Trust; Wendy Habeeb, 8th grade math teacher at Salida Middle School in Salida, Calif.; Martha Hernandez, the executive director of Californians Together; Donna Housman, the founder of the early childhood teacher-training and research organization, the Housman Institute; Carrie Johnson, a mathematics coach for the Salt Lake City school district; Annie Camey Kuo, senior researcher at Understanding Language-Center to Support Excellence in Teaching at Stanford University; Christina Laster, parent in Palm Springs, Calif.; Michael Levine, the senior vice president for learning and impact at Noggin, Nickelodeon’s mobile subscription service for preschoolers; Sheng Lor, 8th grade math teacher at Salida Middle School in Salida, Calif.; Barbara Lora, an English language acquisition coach for the bilingual department in the Brockton district, Mass.; Bushra Makiya, middle school math teacher at The Leadership and Community Service Academy in New York City; LeighAnn Matthews, ESL coach at the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District, N.J.; May Mosallam, EL & compensatory education- coordinator for Dearborn public schools in Michigan; Phil Murray, high school math teacher at Early College Opportunities High School in Santa Fe, N.M.; Jeannine Oynoian, language & literacy/SIOP trainer for Dearborn public schools in Michigan; Alicia Passante, ESL program manager for the Center City public charter schools in Washington D.C.; Virginia Ramirez, a parent in Porterville, Calif.; Rodrigo Rodriguez-Tovar, bilingual literacy coach at Katherine Cook Elementary in Texas; Nadra Shami, language & literacy/SIOP trainer for Dearborn public schools in Michigan; Camrynn Smith, 8th grader in Salida, Calif.; Holly Smith, parent in Salida, Calif.; Noah Starkey, 8th grader in Dansville, Mich.; Deborah Stipek, a professor of education at Stanford University; Tara Warren, 7th and 8th grade math teacher at John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica, Calif.; Steven Weiss, senior researcher at Understanding Language-Center to Support Excellence in Teaching at Stanford University.

Documents: Documents consulted include: Grades K-8 Focus Documents, Achieve the Core; Supporting Unfinished Learning in Math (May 8, 2021), Instruction Partners; Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Intervention in the Elementary Grades, IES What Works Clearinghouse.

This installment is sponsored by ACSD. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.