Renaissance offers resources to keep students accelerating
During the fall, education software company Renaissance performed the largest study of the COVID slide to date to determine the impact of the pandemic on student learning.
The results were mixed. Reading scores dropped only 1% year over year, but math scores fell by almost 7%.
“So far, the disruptions related to COVID have not caused dire circumstances in reading,” said Gene Kerns, Chief Academic Officer at Renaissance. “But of course, things are just getting started. Mathematics, however, is unfortunately a very different picture. Clearly, without question, the mathematics performance of students has already been severely impacted by COVID. We cannot afford for either of these things to become either any worse.”
As for where students are now, Kerns said, “we just don’t know, as schools continue to weather the disruptions between different manners of instructional delivery.” But Renaissance said it will have more insight in the spring.
In the meantime, Kerns offered ways for schools to mitigate potential student losses, track their progress and keep them on successful paths during an engaging session at Thursday’s Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). Kerns discussed a numbers of resources and updates being pushed out by Renaissance that can help assist the 38,000 schools and 14.8 million students they serve.
Most educators know Renaissance from Accelerated Reader, the popular digital software that has been circulating for 35-plus years where students can independently enjoy books while teachers give them activities and quizzes to chart their progress. Keeping students interested in reading – the foundation of the company built by Judi Paul – has been one of the drivers for districts during the pandemic.
“The first request we got from schools was, how can I get books in my students’ hands?” Kerns said. “Research around reading is very clear. While students are away from school, they do a modest amount of reading daily, they don’t really regress in terms of their skills.”
One of the ways they’ve gotten it is through the Renaissance myOn digital library. It gives students 24-hour, 7-day access to 13,000 titles that are linked to Accelerated Reader. When the COVID hit, Renaissance decided to make it available to all schools. Many had never seen it, but it opened up huge doors for students working remotely.
Teachers were able to not only build reading organizers through myOn but also build projects for other areas such as reading, social studies and math. Some used it for grade-level work, others for community-based work, including efforts around healthcare.
Renaissance also addressed the learning losses in math through its Freckle application, which is still available for free. Educators and students can try out 34,000 items aligned to K-9 math standards for regular practice sessions.
In addition, Kerns said Renaissance has other key tools available to school leaders and teachers:
- A report called How Kids Are Performing tracks the pandemic’s effects on students and any achievement gaps. Data is available that looks at 5.3 million students across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The company says its fall research analysis will be updated in March and April in a supplemental report so educators can better track student growth compared with the start of the academic year.
- A Focus Skills Resource Center downloadable PDF lists essential skills for progress students need in both reading and math and is specific to each state.
- Renaissance also offer other premium products, including assessments and data visualizations through its Schoolzilla app so districts can look more closely at potential equity gaps and those who have been affected more than others during the pandemic.
- And he said educators who aren’t familiar with myON can access it for free from Feb. 1-7.
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