During June and July, we expect amplified summer learning acceleration and enrichment programs as we’ve never seen before. Whether you’re looking for a way to create a formal summer school program (virtually or in-person) or let students autonomously work on their own schedule, here are four tips to help you use Exact Path to avoid the summer learning slide!
1. Think It Through: To Assess or Not to Assess
One key way to a successful Exact Path implementation over the summer months is ensuring that your students have individualized learning paths that are at their learning level. The best way to do that is to start by administering our adaptive learning diagnostic assessment. Use the assessment to benchmark specific strengths and needs across our entire K-12 learning progression and confirm that learning will start in just the right place.
If you recently assessed students at the close of the year, have a good idea of where learning should start already, or generally don’t feel like you have time to assess, there are other options. For example, you can choose to auto-generate an on-grade learning path that reviews all skills from the grade level they just completed. This gives them an opportunity to review and reinforce everything they recently learned so students are ready to go after summer. Additionally, you can check in with the Knowledge Map to see how students have been tracking during the previous school year. If things look good, let them keep going through their required skills during the summer months. Finally, you can manually edit learning paths by domain for small one-off tweaks.
2. Set Up Summer Challenges
Considering using the assessment in a virtual setting? It can be done! To prepare, you may want to carefully communicate to both students and parents just how this assessment works. Remember, a computer-adaptive test is not about earning a score of 100%. Rather, it is about figuring out what students know and don’t know so instruction begins at the right level. That means if a parent or caregiver is helping their child through a particularly tough problem, they’re actually negatively affecting their learning path. Encourage students to make their best guess when they need to. The testing algorithm will adapt in real-time to deliver appropriate questions that zero in on each student’s strengths and needs. If you’re leveraging data from one of our assessment partners—NWEA or Renaissance—ensure spring testing is complete so students can start working right away. Remember, each fresh assessment administration means that students have the opportunity to receive an updated learning path, ensuring that the curriculum they’re set to work on is at just the right level for their unique academic needs.
One way that you can keep things interesting over the summer months is to set up Challenges for your students in Exact Path. If you’re not familiar with this feature, Challenges allow teachers to define and set customized goals for specific learners or classes. These goals can be based on time-on-task or skill mastery to encourage engagement in multiple ways. Students can monitor what Challenges they have to work on and watch their Challenge Badges accumulate as they meet each learning goal.
3. Build Assignments
Try setting up weekly Challenges so that students have small, achievable goals that reset frequently. Another option for this feature is the ability to add a little something to help encourage students – that is to say, you can actually customize any sort of prize you might want to tie into earning Challenge Badges. If you plan on meeting with students virtually throughout the summer, celebrate their accomplishments and show off their certificates earned for each badge they have acquired. If summer learning is happening in a less structured, more self-directed environment, work with teachers in the next grade level to help follow up on learning gains made over the summer and consider partnering on incentives that can be given out when school resumes. This flexible feature allows you to decide what level of encouragement your students need to achieve success.
Your students will automatically have just-right content to work on in their learning paths, but when you also layer in assignments, you gain the ability to ensure that your learners focus on specific standards and skills that you think are important during the summer months. Use assignments to ensure that students can preview the curriculum for the next grade level, or conversely, use them to help address unfinished learning and mitigate learning gaps. Either path you choose, the assignments feature allows you to search for lessons, teaching videos, and printable worksheets by skill or standard.
4. Gain Parent Support
So, how do you make sure that your grand plans for summer learning follow through? Gain buy-in from parents, of course! Once you’ve outlined your expectations or recommendations for students over the summer, communicate them to your students’ families. Help parents understand that interruptions to learning this year only further confirm the need for summer acceleration and enrichment—and not just for struggling students, but for all.
We also recommend checking in with parents to assess their access to technology during the summer months. For students with limited options, you might consider customizing printable packets to support learning.