From the desk of Founder and CEO of Learning Ovations, Jay Connor.
Welcome new partners and welcome back to those who are returning for another year of improving student achievement and outcomes!
We are looking forward to what the 2021-2022 school-year will bring, especially as we work to deepen our partnerships and expand the support we can bring in order to guarantee your children achieve the best outcomes!
The past year has certainly not been without challenges. Yet, we know there's light at the end of the tunnel. I believe we should all be proud of the passion and perseverance shown in our continuous efforts to improve our children’s learning trajectories. In fact, we’re excited to report that our latest analysis shows that the use of A2i in our partner districts promoted growth in literacy for all students, regardless of their initial reading-level when they enter school AND many of our districts were also able to keep A2i assessments and differentiated instruction going, even during the transitions from virtual to in-person learning that took place over last school year!
Regardless of the past and how the current school year looks, we know that schools don’t have to do this work alone! We have found that parents and communities are more engaged in their students’ learning than ever. More importantly, these additional community resources can spell major improvements for student learning. So much so that 98% of a student’s learning needs can be supported when community and school efforts are aligned.
We also know that many classrooms will be confronted with unfinished or lost learning due to hardships faced over the last year. The good news, thanks to the dedicated teachers in schools working with A2i, is that this challenge can not only be overcome, but can also be used as an opportunity to improve instruction and support student growth. As such, Learning Ovations commits, like you, to redouble our efforts to provide any and all of the expertise and support needed to accelerate learning and overcome any learning loss brought on by the ups and downs of the past year.
Accomplishing this will require all of us working together towards our goals, starting with the basics, like re-establishing effective instructional practices and purposeful assessment windows across the school year. Having these benchmarks for both instruction and data (provided by the Literacy Outcomes Specialists and A2i assessments) will allow us to continue to lend our resources and support where they are needed most to have the biggest impact for teachers and students.
Building off of the idea that “student outcomes don’t change until adult behaviors change”, we urge leaders in our school boards and district offices to not only make improving education a top priority, but to also lead by example in order to embody that same urgency and commitment.
Which is why our support has and will continue to focus on not only bringing every stakeholder on board, but also bridging the communication gap between them.
We’ve been working harder than ever to add more community insight and engagement. Alongside this mission, we’ve released our new home literacy app, Reading Checkup, empowering communities to further children along their path to better reading.
In collaboration with our communities, we are focused on optimizing in-school instruction. Emphasizing the following priorities for this year, especially for the fall, will help maximize student growth:
Get back into the rhythm of in-person learning and make sure structures and procedures are in place (this will take some time, but that’s ok!). A little work early on in the year will save a TON of learning time in the winter and spring.
Identify student starting points at the beginning of the year, as soon as possible. It’s important to remember that, while many students have continued their assessments over the past year, some students have yet to assess since last Spring’s closure.
Once you have found the structure and starting point, address individual student needs using differentiation. The real value in knowing where students are at using data is to convert that information into effective instruction!
While our central focus is always literacy, we also know there will be many other related areas, critical for instruction and meeting student needs, that will be brought to the forefront this year. We want to not only acknowledge these topics as an essential part of the general education discussion, but also commit to fully integrating them into our professional development, coaching conversations and online resources. While you may think of Learning Ovations from our support in making the complex seem simple, this year we will be providing even more support in the areas of intersection between literacy and Social-Emotional Learning, Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) and equity.
All of these pieces are vital in building an education where all students begin on a level playing field and then accelerate their learning towards new heights. This can’t be done alone, which is why we’re excited to be alongside you for the journey!
~ Jay Connor