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The Iceberg Problem

Teach to One school partners in New Orleans talk about the Iceberg Problem

Our friends at Next Generation Learning Challenges have published an interview with two inspiring educators from Teach to One partner Mildred Osborne Charter School. In the interview, Jolene Galpin, executive director, and Matt Driscoll, director of curriculum and instruction of math, discuss how COVID-19 has affected their school community, share their perspectives on how the Iceberg Problem affects students in elementary and middle school, and discuss how policymaking can play a positive part in addressing unfinished learning and learning loss.

You can read the whole interview on the NGLC blog. Here’s an excerpt from Matt, who explains when he typically sees students start to fall behind in mathematics.

There are always kids who are behind in kindergarten, but you really start to see a drop-off around fourth grade. It’s a big year content-wise. Third grade introduces a whole bunch of new concepts (multiplication, division, fractions) at a deeper conceptual level. Fourth-grade math assumes students grasp a lot of that deep conceptual thinking and fluency and then throws it into overdrive. Some students can get by in fourth grade, but there’s another major shift in sixth grade when they start on a brand new set of standards that, again, assumes deep conceptual understanding of, and fluency with, those prior skills. We see kids across the city who demonstrate significant deficiencies with fluency and calculation, to the point where they struggle to process new concepts. So fourth grade is where we start to see the problems accumulating, but the Iceberg Problem really hits hard in sixth grade.

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