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Building Academic Momentum: Webinar Explores Benefits of Accelerated Learning

Chalkboard with words "back to school"Today the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) and College and Career Readiness and Success Center (CCRS Center) co-hosted a webinar Understanding Accelerated Learning Across Secondary and Postsecondary Education which expanded on a recent report on the same subject. The event described and critically assessed how accelerated learning is defined on the secondary and postsecondary level, the ways in which these strategies have been implemented on and across these learner levels, and gave a number of representatives from various backgrounds an opportunity to present additional information on specific programs highlighted throughout the webinar.

Speakers included:

  • Joseph Harris, Director of the College and Career Readiness & Success Center
  • Jennifer Brown Lerner, Senior Director of American Youth Policy Forum
  • Melinda Mechur Karp, Senior Research Associate at the Community College Research Center
  • Louisa Erickson, Program Administrator at Washington State Board for Technical and Community Colleges
  • Thomas Acampora, Field Manager for the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University

The presentation began with an overarching definition for “accelerated learning” which, for the purposes of the webinar, means a change to the traditional academic timeframe for learning allowing students to progress more quickly through curriculum. This type of approach helps tailor the pace of learning for individual students and allows for all students— not just “high achievers”— to participate in this type of innovative instruction. Ultimately the goal of accelerated learning is to harness the quickened pace of education to build “momentum” for a student so that they have the necessary knowledge and confidence to persist at the postsecondary level.

Throughout the webinar many successful applications of this approach were examined in great detail. Acampora in particular stressed how accelerated learning can be used as a strategy for high school transformation by individually tailoring coursework to students through stand-alone courses. He emphasized his core belief that all students can reach these high levels of achievement given the necessary resources and stressed how these high expectations eventually lead to better student outcomes by “instilling a culture of success.” Mechur spoke at length about the unique opportunities dual enrollment gives to students and showed how earning postsecondary credit on the secondary level can support transitions between the two and incentivize completion.

Erickson’s presentation primarily focused on Washington state’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program (I-BEST) which seeks to contextualize basic education through a team-taught series of courses. The approach helps to expedite the learning of basic skills in reading, math, and writing in effort to keep students and disconnected youth or adults engaged in their education so that they can simultaneously receive job-training while learning these subjects. Moreover, participating students have the opportunity to earn college credits while enrolled, supporting student persistence at the postsecondary level.

More information on the webinar, along with slides, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

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