Differentiated, Accelerated, and Evidence-based Intervention Learning: What’s the Difference?

September 12, 2022

If the summer taught us anything, a little (and very necessary) recharge is the best medicine to usher in the new school year with confidence. In case your mind was in a good book and your head was somewhere in the fluffy summer clouds, we wanted to catch you up on trending educational strategies.

Today, there is a big focus on how to help students catch up and keep up. As a result, you’re probably trying to decide which strategies will best meet your classroom's wide variety of needs. Let’s dive into three common learning strategies: differentiated instruction, accelerated learning, and true evidence-based interventions. 

Often these terms are used interchangeably, but they have key differences that are important to emphasize. It’s important to distinguish among them and clearly understand when each is used. 

  1. Differentiated Learning
    This is the process of tailoring classroom lessons to meet each student’s individual interests, needs, and strengths.

    Differentiated learning doesn’t include strategies for teaching pre-requisite skills; the focus is on tailored approaches to teaching grade-level instruction. 
  2. Accelerated Learning
    Accelerated learning entails addressing prerequisite skills before jumping into grade-level concepts. So, providing just-in-time learning for students as they struggle with a grade-level concept. 

    The idea is to quickly address gaps that may be keeping students from learning and mastering the new concept currently being taught.
  3. Evidence-based Interventions
    True evidence-based interventions are for students who are multiple years behind. These students are likely also receiving differentiated instruction and acceleration in the classroom, but it’s important to see this as distinct from dedicated intervention time and programs. 

Lesson for Leaders

Determining which resources you need to support the strategies mentioned above can be a challenge if you're a school or district leader. Many products market themselves as doing it all. However, research shows that we should not be using the same product for core instruction that we’re using for interventions. Why? Effective interventions must employ a different approach to learning skills than the way students have previously encountered with their core instruction. After all, that approach didn’t work, and now the student requires a different way to master the skills. 

When implementing an intervention program, interventions should be:

  • Data-driven and individualized to each student 
  • Include a formal, independent progress monitoring tool
  • Vary its instructional approach from core instruction
  • Provide proof of efficacy based on an independent assessment

Are you looking for more? View our latest video for actionable tips and examples of when to use these strategies in your classroom.

For an even deeper dive into these important topics in education, attend our free webinar on August 31st for “Differentiation, Acceleration, Intervention | What’s The Difference?”

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Classworks is here to help you to kickstart your school year with resources to empower you and your students and drive results. Chat with us on the bottom right of your screen to start the conversation.

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