What is Learning Acceleration?

As educators prepare for the upcoming school year, they’re naturally concerned about potential learning gaps after a year of primarily online learning. Different techniques will be used across the country, including taking an approach that involves acceleration rather than remediation.

Acceleration seems to be the buzzword of the moment in education, but what is it, exactly? Is it a better option for teachers and students, or should schools focus on covering everything that students might have missed last year?

If you’re still planning for the upcoming school year, you may want to consider focusing on acceleration over remediation methods. Here’s what to know about learning acceleration and how it can help your students thrive.

What is Learning Acceleration?

Acceleration is a concept that might sound new, but it’s been used in schools for many years. However, up until recently, most schools that used acceleration typically utilized it while focusing on enrichment or gifted classes.

Acceleration, in its form as an alternative to remediation, involves helping students ‘catch up’ by teaching critical concepts from the previous grade that directly relate to concepts studied in the current grade. In other words, if a student is struggling in math, they are taught only the concepts that they need to succeed at the current grade level and beyond, not every single concept from previous grade levels (that they may already be familiar with).

What Are the Benefits of Acceleration?

Acceleration helps close the learning gaps that students may have from missing or not understanding lessons from the previous grade. Typically, many students who don’t master every concept by the end of the year are put into remedial classes the following year. 

The issue with this remediation approach is that instead of addressing the shortfalls and integrating them into their current curriculum, it forces students to re-cover everything from the previous grade, potentially holding them back, rather than setting them up for the future. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that acceleration offers students.

1. Less Repetition Means Less Burnout

Remedial classes often repeat the full content of the previous grade level, which means students are forced to sit through materials they may already know and understand. Unlike remediation, acceleration keeps students on grade-level but supplements by hitting key concepts from the previous grade level that directly relate to the current one.

Going over old material isn’t just potentially a waste of time for those who already know it, but it can lead to boredom, frustration, and burnout in the classroom. Kids who lose interest are harder to motivate. Acceleration has been shown to help keep students on track and motivated even when they’re struggling with learning the concepts.

2. Reduces Negative Stereotyping

By focusing on forward momentum in learning, acceleration allows students an opportunity to fill in learning gaps without feeling like they’ve been ‘held back.’ Teachers spend less time reviewing the previous year’s concepts and only revisit those that relate directly to the current grade-level material.

The concept of remediation has been stigmatized, with remedial students often labeled as ‘slow’ or poor students. In truth, many bright students who struggle with a few individual concepts could face more harm than good. This type of labeling has been shown to be damaging to self-esteem and a catalyst for demotivation — the exact opposite of the learning benefit it is intended to be.

With acceleration, all students are placed on a level playing field. No one is held back, and everyone learns from new experiences while reviewing essential ideas from the previous grade level.

3. Helps Develop Permanent Learner Mindset

Learning a concept long enough to pass a test is one thing, but learning a concept to incorporate it into a new lesson or a new concept is a much more powerful way to cement learning. Acceleration gives students tools that they immediately use to see how individual concepts apply to real life.

Learning how to absorb new information to use it for something in real life (or even in the classroom) helps cement the idea that learning never really stops. It doesn’t have to have a strict timeline, either. Students who learn a concept later don’t have to feel like they’ve failed, which can help preserve their love of learning.

4. Learning Feels More Hands-on

Often, even well-meaning educators can make lessons feel dry and dull, especially if these are remedial lessons that have already been covered at some point. With acceleration, new concepts are constantly being introduced and linked to other concepts, so the tendency to tune-out a concept isn’t as likely. 

Students who are learning, implementing, then moving on are less likely to feel like they’re falling behind. Instead, they’ll feel motivated to continue learning throughout the year. Many acceleration techniques also encourage small group activities and hands-on activities that engage students. 

5. Teachers Can See What’s Working

Sometimes, it’s the course material that is the problem, not the student’s ability. Because acceleration keeps everyone ‘on the same page,’ teachers can see quickly if some lessons are simply more challenging for most students to grasp.

If everyone in the class struggles with a particular concept, the teacher can supplement that concept instead of letting the students try and struggle through to the next lesson. If some students are doing well, they may even help their struggling classmates comprehend the concepts.

Help Students Accelerate This Year

Acceleration benefits every student, and because it’s so easy to personalize your curriculum to take advantage of acceleration, you can help every student do their best. With De Alba Math Center STAAR Aligned Resources, you can choose digital or physical workbooks to better meet every student’s needs. Physical consumables let students get ‘hands-on’ while our regular updates ensure you’re always following the newest guidelines and procedures. 

We know you want to help your students learn, and we want to help you make this year a great one. Contact us today to see how we can help you accelerate learning for your students this year and beyond.


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