Recently, the Washington Post reported that for the first time ever, the majority of public school students are from low income families, that is students qualifying for free or reduced lunch. The article goes on to explain how this changes the way teachers have to deal with students. They now need to look at these students individually each day. “When did this student eat last?” “Is this student healthy today?” “Is something making this student especially fearful today?” These questions are now a part of most teachers’ daily routine. When everything is pretty much okay with students, they can be taught and dealt with collectively. When things are not okay, individual attention is necessary.

The same is true when students, for any reason, fall behind. Just as educators cannot form a collective opinion of what is going on in the personal lives of disadvantaged students, they cannot make a collective decision on what academically struggling students require to progress. Each student in need of intervention is individual and their personal needs or skill gaps must be seen to. According to the Washington Post article this need has greatly expanded. “The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, a growing number of children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up.”

These students can and do catch up when their instruction is individualized to their needs. Providing individual instruction to a few students is extremely challenging. Multiply the need by more than half the students in the class without help and it quickly becomes an impossible situation. Intervention programs must be created to relieve teachers of part of this burden. Programs like Ascend Math provide truly individualized assessment and instruction, reaching down to the student’s lowest math skill gaps. Only in this way can one teacher help a large number of individual students.

To learn more about Ascend Math I encourage you to attend one of our brief weekly webinars.