Diagnosing Unfinished Teaching and Learning

Diagnosing Unfinished Teaching and Learning: Because of a disrupted school year, unfinished teaching and learning may impact students’ progress towards mastery of grade-level content. Determining the content that may not have been taught is critical to moving to grade-level content as quickly as possible. Leveraging data from multiple sources provides insight into what students know, what they don’t know, and addresses misconceptions about what students think they know.

  • Leverage the Nebraska Essential Instructional Content for 2020-2021: ELA/Literacy and Mathematics to identify essential content knowledge and prerequisite skills and plan your approach to diagnosing students’ unfinished learning in only those areas.
  • Determine which evidence-based, broad-scale interventions to utilize to address unfinished learning and provide students with the requisite skills to engage in grade-level work.
    • Assess the capacity for in-school interventions (e.g. specific intervention programs and materials, small groups, and one-on-one tutoring).
    • Evaluate the infrastructure and capacity for interventions outside of the school day (e.g. summer school options, extended day, Saturday school, high dosage tutoring, and homework help).
    • Allocate the resources required to implement intervention programs and structures (e.g. funding for additional staff, time, and space outside of school).
  • Compile existing data, use your essential content list to determine what data is missing or where there are gaps, and understand student learning needs and continued challenges. Review Teaching and Learning in the 2020-2021 School Year: Assessment as a starting point.
    • As necessary, review and revise yearly assessment plans to make sure plans are comprehensive, and that all district-required assessments have a clear purpose and inform the allocation of resources to address instructional needs (e.g. additional staff, targeted intervention programs).
    • Ensure that school leaders and teachers are using formative assessments (e.g. screeners, diagnostics, standards-based) to directly inform instruction, reveal individual students’ strengths and areas for growth, and identify any physical or emotional barriers to learning.
  • Time is precious. Diagnostics should focus on the instructional elements that matter most. Use diagnostics from high-quality instructional materials as often as possible, plan to spend no more than a few hours administering diagnostics to an individual student, think through diagnosis data that you can collect on an ongoing basis.
    • Teachers need assessments that are closely connected to their instructional materials and provide information for moving all students on to grade-level work. While this principle holds true, the approaches to assessment vary by content and grade band (e.g. math versus K-2 reading versus English language arts (ELA).
    •  In ELA/Literacy, focus on diagnosing Foundational Skills and Fluency and pre-assess knowledge of topics within complex texts.
    • In Math, use assessments that focus on prerequisite mathematics content at each grade level and that elevate the instructional core.
  • The School Renewal and Acceleration Professional Learning Series includes archived webinars, along with tools and resources that can be used with educators and school leaders to support renewal and acceleration planning.