California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II

Numerous avenues of support

Holding high expectations is impossible without giving students the support they need—including accelerated academic interventions—to catch those who fall behind. Avenues of support include prevention and intervention. Preventative measures are good for all students, and include differentiated instructional techniques and continuous progress monitoring. Interventions are for those who fall behind grade-level achievement and need additional support. Both the prevention and intervention strategies are covered in more detail in the section on Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2) in Recommendation 2—Instruction, Assessment, and Intervention.

The middle grades present students with increased demands for critical thinking, organizational skills (to manage homework and assignments), and social competence. While believing that all students can succeed, effective middle grades communities still recognize that not all students will progress at the same rate. Some students will get a concept quickly and need to move to additional challenging materials to prevent boredom. Other students will need formalized avenues of support and many opportunities to practice before they understand and succeed. Because students are individuals and have unique learning styles and needs, teachers and schools must build a coherent system of support and opportunity both inside the classroom and throughout the school.

It is important to point out the difference between the word opportunity and the concept of numerous avenues of support in regard to academic supports. Typically, opportunity means that students can choose to participate in something. However, if students choose not to take advantage of the opportunity, they fail to learn the content from that missed opportunity. Numerous avenues of support is a stronger concept than opportunity. The avenues of support are sequenced, structured, mandatory, and tailored to help students to succeed. The decision to take advantage of an opportunity is not left to the student; it is a part of teacher planning and the expectation that failure is not an option.

Some of the ways teachers can help students to try, try, and try again to understand a concept include the following measures:

  • Require students to revise assignments and give them meaningful, instructive feedback until student work meets or exceeds grade-level proficiency standards.
  • Reinforce complex concepts across the curriculum (refer to Cross-curricular connections; writing across the curriculum in Recommendation 4—Relevance).
  • Teach and reteach missed concepts through accelerated academic interventions (refer to Interventions in Recommendation 2).

Numerous avenues of support can include additional activities that are mostly voluntary, such as Saturday school, learning labs, homework centers, and tutoring.

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