Focus Skills from Renaissance

To help teachers focus on the skills their students need to quickly get caught up on this fall after missed instructional time during the COVID-19 closures, Renaissance has introduced Focus Skills, a set of free tools for K–12 literacy and math educators.

Using data from nearly 80 million Star Assessments taken by 25 million students, the company’s curriculum experts determined the skills most critical for accelerating learning and closing learning gaps. Identified as key skills within Renaissance’s learning progressions—the path students take as they move from a novice to an expert level of understanding, according to the standards of each state—Focus Skills are essential for student progression and are prerequisites for learning future skills. Focus Skills are also transferable skills that help students achieve success in adjacent domains and subjects.

Take, for example, the ability to connect sounds with particular letters. This is a basic phonics skill, and the literacy achievement of any student who does not learn it will come to a standstill. The ability to compare and contrast different versions of the same story, on the other hand, won’t affect a student’s future performance much at all. They’re even likely to pick that skill up along the way if they’ve mastered more critical standards.

To help educators concentrate on those truly critical skills, Renaissance has released tools identifying focus skills mapped to the standards of each state and every grade level. With these resources, teachers can zoom in on the skills most critical for future learning, and toggle back and forth between grades to see what key concepts their students may have missed in the disruptive end of the 2019–2020 academic year. Learn more

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