How Louisiana is Using ASSISTments to Address Unfinished Learning

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To help states respond to the disruption in education caused by the pandemic, Congress approved three stimulus recovery packages through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.  This fund infused Louisiana with $4 billion toward primary and secondary education recovery efforts.  One way that the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) is using these funds is to institute a statewide tutoring strategy called Accelerate.  The Accelerate initiative establishes tutoring as a core function of schools, providing equitable access to just-in-time support for all students during the school day.  Accelerate is helping teachers and students across the state resolve unfinished learning and recover learning loss, no matter the cause.

Louisiana’s Accelerate initiative is driven by the Acceleration Cycle and in the area of mathematics, that cycle is supported by ASSISTments.  The Acceleration Cycle is characterized by four unique phases that flow continuously throughout the school year and guide educators in their work to accelerate math learning.  These phases are Diagnose, Plan, Deliver, and Monitor.  At each phase of the cycle, ASSISTments offers support and insight to educators through online administration of assessments and actionable data reports.

In the LDOE Acceleration Resources folder in our Content Library, you’ll find readiness diagnostics and tutoring exit tickets aligned to Eureka Math and Illustrative Mathematics for grades 1-8, Algebra I, and Geometry, crafted by the Louisiana Department of Education. These assessment tools assist educators in determining student readiness for grade-level content and monitoring their acquisition of prerequisite skills as a result of tutoring.

During the Diagnose phase, teachers find the appropriate Acceleration diagnostic and assign it to their students.  

Test Mode is a new feature available now in ASSISTments.  This feature provides teachers with the flexibility to use ASSISTments as a formative and summative assessment tool.  When assigning diagnostics and tutoring exit tickets it is important to enable Test Mode at Assign Time to ensure a feedback free assessment of student understanding.

When students complete the diagnostic, teachers analyze the data using the Standards View of the Assignment Report.  The Standards View delineates results by standard and indicates a students overall score for each standard based on their performance on the problems in the assignment.  With the report in hand, teachers select students for tutoring at the standard level and transition into the next phase of the cycle.

In the Plan phase of the Acceleration Cycle, teachers and tutors use the diagnostic data to design tutoring intervention tailored to the deficits students demonstrated on the diagnostic.  Then, tutors Deliver just-in-time intervention to help prepare students for success in their grade-level classroom, thus accelerating math learning.

After the tutoring session, tutors find the corresponding exit ticket to assign to their students. This initiates the Monitor phase of the Acceleration Cycle in which teachers and tutors measure student progress toward readiness using the Standards View of the Assignment Report.  At this point, teachers and tutors use the data to take action and the cycle continues.  A key feature of the Acceleration Cycle is that tutoring intervention and core instruction take place concurrently, in harmony, ensuring maximum impact on student learning.

For a select group of schools in Louisiana, acceleration is enhanced by ASSISTments’ exclusive add-on feature, TutorASSIST, and these schools make up the TutorASSIST Pilot.  TutorASSIST is a dynamic data dashboard that gives tutors access to interactive data reports for a small group of students and tutoring lessons designed by the Louisiana Department of Education.  TutorASSIST helps tutors spend less time preparing for intervention and more time delivering high-quality, curriculum-aligned instruction directly targeted to student’s individual needs.  Through this partnership we are learning precisely how ASSISTments can be leveraged for acceleration impact.

Though we are in the early stages of the Accelerate initiative in Louisiana, the initial response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Lacey Harrison, a middle school math teacher and tutor at Reeves High School in Allen Parish said, “In the past, the struggle has been not realizing that students have unfinished learning until you get to a new topic.”  Since using TutorASSIST, Harrison reports, “Now I am able to identify the gaps and fill them in which allows more time for grade-level problem solving with students.”

As the pandemic and natural disasters continue to disrupt learning for students, Louisiana educators are equipped and ready to face the challenge of unfinished math learning with the help of ASSISTments and the Acceleration Cycle.

Each year, teachers across the country are faced with the challenge of addressing unfinished learning.  The ongoing COVID-19 crisis makes that task even more difficult.  But in Louisiana, addressing unfinished learning is particularly precarious.  On August 23, 2021, Louisiana recorded the most COVID-19 related deaths since the pandemic began and less than one week later, Hurricane Ida desecrated the southeastern region of the state, turning a crisis into a catastrophe.  Sadly, many students lost a month of instruction as a consequence of the storm.  And as surely as hurricane season comes around each year, Louisiana educators have become quite skilled in addressing unfinished learning.

Interested in bringing Louisiana’s Accelerate initiative as supported by ASSISTments to your school? Click here.

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