By Dr. Matt Doyle, Interim Superintendent, Vista Unified School District, Laura Kohn, Director, Center for Local Income Mobility (CLIMB) at San Diego Workforce Partnership and Gerri Burton, New Learning Ventures
In recent blog posts, we introduced the three brushstrokes that guide the transformation of the Vista Unified School District: Early Education, Personal Learning and Relevant to the World of Work. Our focus in this blog post is brushstroke #1: our work expanding early education supports through the design of a prenatal-to-grade-three pathway. We call this the P-3 Continuum.
The world of education is changing rapidly. Students, parents, and teachers have a much broader array of materials, tools, and activities to access as they work together to execute a meaningful personal learning (PL) pathway. As a result of creating more personalized learning pathways, student growth and achievement is no longer tethered to one-size-fits-all, teach-to-the-middle pedagogy.
There remain a few key gatekeepers, however, that all students must pass in order to take full advantage of the expanded possibilities for their learning pathway. These gatekeepers are language, literacy, and numeracy. When students struggle with these fundamentals, their personal learning journey is slow and constrained. Across the U.S., low-income students of color are disproportionately trapped behind these gates.
For years, the K-12 world has fought to close this achievement gap. Much of the work related to the achievement gap concentrates in the upper grades when the gap is very pronounced … and very, very stubborn. This backfill approach–remediation–almost always produces limited results and reminds us of the old adage “too little, too late.” Remediation also tends to be extremely costly both in dollars and impact on student time during the instructional day. In Vista Unified, we have discovered over the years that late elementary, middle, and high school remediation ends up costing millions of dollars annually, with limited return on investment.