On-Grade Institute (Home)

Reducing Learning Struggles

Point-of-Instruction Focus

Our Goal - Breakout Achievement

Our Solution Framework

Content Is Common Denominator

Teachers Enrich Practice

Closing Learning Gaps

Letter Grades Hide Learning Gaps

Learning Gaps Cripple Progress

Teacher Implementation Benefits

High Value for Teachers

Student Engagement

Parent Involvement

School Implementation Benefits

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Frequently Asked Questions


What is the On-Grade Student Achievement Model?

The On-Grade Student Achievement Model is a demonstrated, systemic approach to achieve and sustain high-level student achievement. It is focused on the classroom as the epicenter of educational operations – teaching and learning.

The On-Grade Model effectively integrates proven quality principles and research-backed best-practices. It employs user-friendly, web-based system management technology and real-time feedback. It refines educational processes and manages their implementation, operations and support. The On-Grade Model enables teachers, entire schools and school districts to facilitate, integrate, accelerate and sustain instructional and operational improvements. The goal is to achieve gap-free ‘on-grade’ teaching and learning. Concurrently, it reduces Response to Intervention (RtI) Tier 3 intervention pressures and expenses.

Easily implemented and scaled, the On-Grade Model is a comprehensive and flexible Model that can be applied to any educational situation, including pre-K, K-12, vocational and post-secondary, simultaneously, at all levels in those systems. It facilitates implementing the Common Core State Standards and Assessments and accelerates their effective implementation at the classroom level.   [back to top]


Why is there such a strong focus on student learning gaps?

The purpose of the education system is to transfer knowledge and skill content (both cognitive and non-cognitive) to students in a 14-year, pre-K through 12 grade span and prepare each and every one of them for their post secondary endeavors. Learning gaps represent failure to achieve the content transfer and therefore failure of the mission. The degree of failure and success is represented by student achievement demonstrations on state and federal assessments and teacher observations. Essentially, missed assessment items represent at least one learning gap. Graduating gap-free students is another way of expressing education mission success.   [back to top]


Is there an easy way to pinpoint student learning gaps?

Educators can readily identify and correct learning gaps if learning objectives are defined as discrete knowledge and skill items (KSI) at the operational level. Starting with operational level objectives not only enables pinpointing learning gaps, but also enables high definition alignment between standards, instructional curriculum and assessments. These objectives provide the natural level of detail for effectively managing the many educational processes involved with the knowledge and skill transfer.   [back to top]


How are learning gaps related to retention and dropouts?

Educational systems exhibit general failure when their students develop impairing learning gaps. Catastrophic failure is represented by retentions and drop outs. Learning gaps accumulate over time and block effective learning, leading to low student achievement, absenteeism, disengagement, retention and dropouts. Preventing gaps and correcting any that occur immediately is the pathway to retention and reduced dropout. Managing student progress at the operational level in real-time is key to preventing gap accumulation.   [back to top]


What is the Hinds County MS School District doing with the On-Grade Model?

Hinds County is getting ahead of the gaps and doing everything possible in the classroom to ensure they don’t occur. This focus instead of formalizing methods to fix problems later using tools such as RtI Tier 3 is more efficient and more effective. Making sure to prevent gaps requires well defined knowledge and skill content, principals and teachers working in collaboration to ensure aligned and quality lesson plans, and responsive district and parental support systems.    [back to top]


Is the On-Grade Model another project to improve student achievement?

The On-Grade Model is a continuous improvement system designed to improve student outcomes. It is used as the underlying model for all education operations. This is in contrast to the typical improvement project with a short life-span. It also avoids the bad effects of three debilitating pressures: changing district priorities; external pressures from the community and other levels of government; and destabilizing leadership changes. The On-Grade Model is a systemic approach offering tools and information to teachers. It is not just another project.   [back to top]


Is the On-Grade Model different from the State accountability model?

The On-Grade Model is not a substitute for the state accountability model, but a means for teachers to achieve compliance with the state accountability model. Where the State accountability system sets goals for achievement growth, the On-Grade Model provides the tools, information and management controls to achieve the state's goals.    [back to top]


How does the On-Grade Model support State goals including Race to the Top goals?

The On-Grade Model provides a cohesive, systemic solution to State’s education problems. While the state accountability system sets goals and penalties for failure, the On-Grade Model provides the means to achieve those goals at the district, school, and classroom levels. And as a single, comprehensive approach, it is an economical solution that can improve student achievement across the entire state while implementing the Common Core State Standards and Assessments.    [back to top]


How do we know this will improve outcomes?

The Hinds County MS School District has demonstrated the effectiveness of the On-Grade Model approach. They have seen impressive student achievement gains at both of the District’s “at risk of failing” schools. In the past two years, Utica Elementary has increased student achievement by more than 20 percent on the state’s Quality Distribution Index. Bolton-Edwards’ has increased achievement by 12 percent. It should be noted that more than 90 percent of the students in these schools are disadvantaged.   [back to top]


Do teachers like the On-Grade Model?

Teachers want to do a good job and see students succeed. As professionals, the On-Grade Model offers significantly more networking with peers, support staff, students and parents for communicating, sharing and getting support. Clear definition of content objectives at KSI levels provides teachers with the concise job objectives needed to succeed. When gaps are discovered, the pinpoint accuracy from using operational level content enables direct and immediate intervention. Since the Model is not prescriptive for instructional curriculum, teachers have professional and creative freedom (and responsibility) to design quality lesson plans. We've gotten lots of positive feedback from teachers. Listen to what one ELA teacher had to say.  [back to top]


What makes the On-Grade Model so unique?

The On-Grade Model is systemic and leverages a new class of technology developed specifically for education systems to make it feasible for  teachers, schools, districts and even states to work in a strategic way to achieve and sustain student achievement objectives. The original research and design of the technology started with solving problems in the classroom, and evolved to a system of complementary processes and tools. This system supports education at all levels, from the teacher to Governor’s office and everywhere in-between. True to our original work, we remain focused on the classroom, but know that the system is expandable and compatible with whole enterprise groups.

The Model designers understood that education’s problems were systemic and integrated. Without the education community working together, educators could not achieve broad-based high-level improvement in classroom practice and student achievement.  On-Grade is a comprehensive and flexible model that can be applied to any educational situation, including pre-K, K-12, vocational and post-secondary. Its beauty is it can do so simultaneously, at all levels in those systems. With focus on the classroom, our intention is to encourage groups of teachers to link up for sharing and support and for that interlocking cooperation to organically grow to encompass whole schools. It works because the teachers want it to happen - the essence of our grassroots approach.  [back to top]


Is the On-Grade Model just for implementing the Common Core State Standards?

The On-Grade Model can implement any standards, frameworks or syllabi fully and faithfully. Today, it is timely to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The On-Grade Model, however, is more than a standards implementation tool. It goes much further. It provides the process support and management controls to breakdown standards into discrete knowledge and skill items, and develop aligned unit and lesson plans. The Model supports the entire teaching and learning process, including tracking student achievement, pinpointing gaps and managing interventions. This gap prevention and immediate correction is at the heart of the Model and is critical to the success of any standards implementation. The Model is so effective because lagging student performance issue nationwide is not lack of high standards, but massive student learning gaps and general tolerance for their existence.   [back to top]