In the aftermath of the global pandemic, the impact of learning loss has intensified, underscoring a pressing need for intentional and precise academic support. As educational institutions navigate the challenges of disrupted learning, the demand for targeted interventions that actually drive improvement in student achievement at scale is more pronounced than ever.
In this evolving landscape, scalable and reliable support systems are essential to address learning gaps and guide students toward academic success.
Fortunately, there are signs that some trends are leading to positive changes and academic impacts that span state testing scores, standardized tests, GPAs, and subject grades.
In Mississippi's South Pike School District, students achieved notable improvement in ELA and math due to South Pike’s investment in scalable, yet personalized student support systems to augment their schools and teachers.
Students who received online feedback on their writing, in this case from Paper, were much more likely to score higher on ELA compared to peers who did. For example, students in grades seven and eight who used the Review Center live support grew 31% more toward their annual i-Ready growth goals in ELA compared to students who did not.
This was also true in math. Students in grades three through six who used Live Help at least once for math tutoring grew 9% more on their i-Ready math scores compared to students who did not.
These findings held up across other districts and grade levels, ranging from increases on PreACT test scores by as much as 1.85 points to GPA improvements by an average of 1.32 points at the high school level.
Paper’s researchers in the Department of Impact worked hand in hand with these districts to understand what the possible key drivers of these results were. The key takeaways included:
1. Minimum dosage recommendations are critical, but more attainable than you think
Our research demonstrated that students start to see meaningful academic gains with just three sessions of support. Meaning that, based on these quasi-experimental studies, students start to realize the above-mentioned impacts after just three sessions of student support a month.
2. Habitual usage is the biggest driver of student improvement
No surprise here, but consistency was the leading driver of student improvement. In fact, for every additional month a student spent as a habitual user, completing three or more sessions, led to an 8% increase in EOY math percentile and a 5% increase in EOY ELA percentile.
One of the easiest ways to ensure habitual usage is to embed time for using tools or resources that are providing the extra support within the school day, whether in study halls, flex time, in the classroom, in instruction plans for substitute teachers, or many other similar avenues.
3. Impact is the strongest when humans are involved
The results were strongest when examining impact correlated to usage of tools and features that provided support from and/or included live humans.
This is particularly important because so many technologies and tools rely solely on providing students independent practice, independent experiences, or independent use cases. Although the supports and interventions tested were not controlled to be guided practice, this aligns with the benefits derived from guided practice—versus solely relying on independent practice.
In the wake of the global pandemic, the imperative need for intentional academic support has become more evident than ever.
As South Pike School District’s success echoes across more and more districts, the research underscores the transformative potential of targeted interventions.
The revelation that impactful change can be achieved with minimal dosage emphasizes the feasibility of scalable solutions. Embracing habitual usage and prioritizing guided practice further solidifies the path forward, offering a beacon of hope for a resilient and revitalized academic landscape post-COVID. Learn more about Paper’s research on what types of support are driving student outcomes.