#38 – Accelerating Learning with AVID to Empower Students and Educators Through Agency

Unpacking Education May 5, 2021 23 min

While the past year resulted in disruption in schooling, as we look forward, can we shift the focus of the national dialogue from learning loss to accelerating learning? The pandemic highlighted and widened the opportunity gaps that many students across the country face every day. For more than 40 years, AVID Center has proven that acceleration with social-emotional and academic supports can reduce the opportunity gaps for students traditionally underserved by K–12 education. How can we learn from past successes accelerating learning and build upon new learnings as a result of the pandemic?

We know from experience and research that developing student agency and providing students with the tools and resources to learn is foundational to any efforts to accelerate learning. The current conversations focus on what should be done to students, not what should be done with students to address any learning gaps.

Educators and professional learning were also impacted by the pandemic. High-quality professional learning delivered virtually provided teachers with the opportunity to learn in new ways and provided access to those who were previously limited in their ability to participate due to geographic limitations.

Join our Digital Learning Specialists when they talk further with our special guest, Dr. Lynn Kepp, Vice President of Executive Communication and Project Management Office at AVID Center in San Diego, California. Together, they discuss accelerating learning rather than learning loss and how we might better support students to be partners in learning by developing student agency.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
Digital Learning Coach
Pamela Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist

Agency…refers to the extent to which individuals can use total free will to make the choices that affect them… It is a person’s capacity to leverage resources to navigate obstacles and create positive change in their life.

Dr. Anindya Kundu, author of The Power of Student Agency: Looking Beyond Grit to Close the Opportunity Gap


The following are resources available at AVID.org to explore this topic in more depth:

  • Tutoring and collaborative study groups are a powerful option to accelerate learning. Learn more about effective tutoring and collaborative study groups at AVID.org.
  • How well do you know your students? Resources to consider for building relational capacity and questions to consider for summer and extended learning experiences are available on AVID.org.

Take Time to Identify What We Have Learned

The term learning loss has become a popular label to place on the educational experience of children this year. It is a term that can cause stress and anxiety. More importantly, it’s a term that does not capture (or reflect) the stories of growth, resilience, and adaptability that have been the hallmark of many individual experiences this year.

In this episode, we recognize and honor how much has changed in public education during the pandemic, identifying areas where we have grown, learned, and succeeded that should be carried forward into the next academic year.

  • Empower Students: Educators must empower students to own their learning. By explicitly teaching and practicing skills that students can use to accelerate their learning and thinking—such as reading for disciplinary literacy, note-taking, study skills, problem-solving, and critical thinking—educators can meet students where they are and move them forward through engaging learning opportunities. Students should set goals for growth and not focus on deficits.
  • Embrace New Learning and Possibilities: Educators and students have experienced and learned many things that they might not have learned or experienced without this opportunity. They have experienced how technology can enhance and move learning forward. Online learning and use of technology allows time and space for processing, connecting, and revisiting learning. How do educators and learners continue to leverage these positive outcomes as they move forward into the next school year?
  • Enhance Accessibility: Technology has improved accessibility of professional learning and networking among educators. Virtual opportunities exist, absent of geographical location or area of specialty, for educators to engage and participate in quality professional learning with greater flexibility.