Accelerate, Don’t Remediate: New Evidence from Elementary Math Classrooms

Research Rundown Issue: July '21
Publisher: TNTP and Zearn
Date Published: May '21


Analyzing data from over 100,000 classrooms and over 2 million students who used Zearn’s K-5 online math platform during the 2020-21 school year, researchers found that students in high poverty schools were nearly twice as likely to be remediated—that is, taught content and standards designed for earlier grades—as students in low-poverty schools. They also found that in schools with mostly students of color, nearly 1 in 6 students were remediated, even if they had already mastered grade-level content.

However, the researchers found that when educators implemented learning acceleration and exposed all students to grade-level materials, students of color and those from low-income families benefited the most. More specifically, they found that classes that experienced learning acceleration in schools with mostly students of color saw a much smaller increase in students who struggled with grade-level content compared to students in remediated classrooms, and they also found that students completed 49% more grade-level lessons. The findings were similar for schools with large populations of low-income students.

The report ends with a series of recommendations—access to high-quality instructional materials, monitoring student progress, engaging with families—to help schools with designing and implementing learning acceleration for fall 2021.

Why This Matters in Minnesota

Study after study indicates that lost learning—particularly for students of color and low-income students—due to COVID-19 school closures is something we cannot ignore. As required by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), districts must use at least 20% of their funds to address learning loss. Furthermore, the Minnesota Department of Education recently announced that they will allocate half of their ARP dollars ($66 million) directly to public schools through a formula for learning recovery. As schools continue to decide how they are going to use these funds, it’s critical that they implement learning acceleration strategies and engage with families.

Explore the report