Breaks in understanding and disconnected new knowledge that causes learning backlogs. A learning backlog is a gap between a learner’s grade level of proficiency (their effective grade – the grade they are functioning at) and the grade they are enrolled in (their actual grade – the grade they are in).
Dr Nic Spaull of Stellenbosch University showed us dramatically the extent of learning backlogs in mathematics. In standardised test data, he showed the following:
This situation has been confirmed in data collected by Reflective Learning* and the picture has been extended to show that:
So, based on the levels of students I’ve seen that in any given class there’s a wide range of abilities. I might have missed some students who really struggled in my classes because they would hide behind the student who performs better.
We did the diagnostic test and I was shocked that I had Grade 8 kids who were performing at a Grade 3 level. So, whenever I planned my lessons I only had a Grade 8 child in mind. So, being able to identify exactly where the problem lies and what the level is I began to understand that I’m just speaking Greek to these kids. So I’m talking abstract Maths and they’re left at Grade 3 / Grade 4 level.