Renaissance Releases Updated Focus Skills & Launches Math Trip Steps to Support Accelerated Learning

These free resources are designed to help educators maximize instructional time as they support students following COVID-19 disruptions

Renaissance, a global leader in pre-K–12 education technology, has updated its collection of free resources built around Focus Skills and debuted Trip Steps, which identify math skills students tend to stumble over. The combination of resources is designed to help educators increase the impact of their instructional time following the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Identified as key skills within Renaissance’s learning progressions—the path students take as they move from a novice to expert level of understanding, according to the standards of each state—Focus Skills are also important prerequisites for future learning.

“When we find that students are missing skills that we normally would expect them to have, we just don’t have time to stop this year’s grade-level instruction and teach a separate lesson,” said Dave Gibbons, curriculum director at Schuyler Community Schools in Nebraska. “We have to find ways to adjust our scope and sequence, our teaching, even the day’s lesson plan so that we can scaffold in the instruction students missed last year. We really have to know what those Focus Skills are in order to anticipate those needs and address them efficiently.”

Trip Steps go deeper into Focus Skills by identifying the math skills that are also the most difficult for students to learn at grade level. To put this another way: If learning is a staircase, each step is not the same size. Trip Steps ask students to grasp much more difficult concepts. When a Trip Step is also a Focus Skill, it is not only difficult for students to master, but is also critical for future academic success. As educators work to help students finish learning skills that may have been interrupted due to COVID disruptions, understanding both which skills are essential for future progress and where students tend to stumble will be critical.

An example of a Trip Step in math is finding the area of a rectangle, which students are asked to do in 3rd grade. The formula, length times width, is straightforward to an adult mind, but for 3rd-graders, it requires using multiplication and measurement in unfamiliar ways. In fact, finding an area is as difficult as skills that 6th-graders work on, but schools ask 3rd-graders to do it three years earlier because it’s a prerequisite for future learning.

Teachers can see literacy and math Focus Skills for each state by grade level on Renaissance’s website, where a list of Trip Steps for mathematics is also available. To support the needs of emergent bilingual students, Renaissance also recently released Focus Skills for reading in Spanish.

“Due to the disruptions, students this year have more unfinished learning than in a typical year,” said Gene Kerns, chief academic officer at Renaissance. “And some of those learning gaps are much more challenging to close than others. With Focus Skills and Trip Steps, educators can zero in on the skills that will provide the most return for students this year and into their future academic careers.”

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The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

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