New Report from Curriculum Associates Indicates Ambitious Growth Needed and Attainable to Accelerate Learning Recovery

New data highlights connection between implementing Stretch Growth® goals and closing unfinished learning gaps in reading and math.

North Billerica, MA, August 23, 2023

As the nation’s students continue to fall behind pre-pandemic learning benchmarks, Curriculum Associates has released a new report demonstrating the impact of setting ambitious targets for students and what can happen when they meet them.

Findings from Pathways to Success: How Stretch Growth Goals Support Learning Recovery are based on data from more than 2.4 million students who completed the i-Ready Diagnostic for Reading and more than three million students who completed the i-Ready Diagnostic for Mathematics in Grades K–7 in 2021–2022 and in Grades 1–8 in 2022–2023. The report evaluates trends in growth patterns and grade-level placements for students who may require the most support to get to grade-level or develop essential prerequisite skills for later grades.

“So much of the news we’re seeing regarding student growth since the COVID-19 pandemic has showcased the historic lows in student learning,” said Rob Waldron, CEO of Curriculum Associates. “While these findings are concerning, students are able to accelerate their learning and begin to catch up when high expectations and personalized supports—like Stretch Growth—are utilized by schools. It’s not too late for us to help our students recover from learning loss and turn around the national narrative—but we cannot wait any longer.”

Curriculum Associates has pioneered the concept of Stretch Growth to create individualized student learning targets intended to provide ambitious yet attainable pathways to grade-level proficiency that go beyond the typical learning trajectory.

“By implementing Stretch Growth goals and setting high expectations, we have found that students are able to close learning gaps, particularly in the earlier grades,” said Kristen Huff, vice president of assessment and research at Curriculum Associates. “We found more success in students reaching grade level and staying at grade level when learning gaps were addressed early on. However, that’s not to say introducing Stretch Growth goals to older students won’t yield results. Even the practice of working toward Stretch Growth goals, when not fully achieving them, can inspire students to be ambitious and motivated in their learning.”

Key Findings:

  • For students who began Year 1 two or more grade levels below  their chronological grade, there were at least three times the percentage reaching grade-level placement after two years of Stretch Growth compared to Typical Growth.
  • For Grade 2 students who began Year 1 two or more grade levels behind in Reading, we saw only 31 percent place on grade level at the end of Grade 3 after Typical Growth, and a full 25 percent of those students remained two or more grade levels behind.  But for these same students, meeting Stretch Growth led to 89 percent achieving grade level.
  • For Grade 4 students who began two or more grade levels behind in Mathematics, a smaller percentage of students reached grade level at the end of Grade 5 when meeting Typical Growth targets (15%) compared to students who met Stretch Growth targets (75%). 
  • Students who met Stretch Growth for even one year, rather than two years consecutively, still demonstrated higher proportions (1.5 times) of reaching grade level than those who only met Typical Growth. 
  • Stretch Growth proved particularly impactful in elementary years (i.e., Grades K–5), with at least 70 percent of students reaching grade level in Mathematics after meeting their Stretch Growth targets for two years. 
  • In Grades 6–8, though there was a smaller proportion of students reaching grade level in Mathematics after meeting their Stretch Growth targets for two years, compared to elementary students, we still see nearly 50 percent or more reach grade level. 
  • Up to 22 percent of elementary school students reached grade-level placement after two years of Typical Growth in Mathematics.
  • After two years of Typical Growth, only a small percentage (i.e., six percent or less) of middle-grade mathematics students achieved grade-level placement.

“The time is ripe to implement meaningful, evidence-based, and scalable interventions to accelerate student learning,” said Emily McCann, senior vice president of educator community at Curriculum Associates. “We have an opportunity to revolutionize long-term learning across the nation by embedding Stretch Growth and setting high expectations as a practice to address learning gaps. Supporting teachers with the right data-driven tools to create individualized learning pathways for all students is the key to accelerated student learning.”

Pathways to Success: How Stretch Growth Goals Support Learning Recovery is one of a series of reports from Curriculum Associates on Stretch Growth impact and implementation. It precedes the forthcoming Curriculum Associates reports for Reading and Mathematics from the 2022–2023 school year.

About Curriculum Associates
Founded in 1969, Curriculum Associates, LLC designs research-based print and online instructional materials, screens and assessments, and data management tools. The company’s products and outstanding customer service provide teachers and administrators with the resources necessary for teaching diverse student populations and fostering learning for all students.

Media contact: