The grade to grade record of a solid “C” student may appear acceptable, but behind the passing "C" letter grades are learning gaps. If any of these gaps are in scaffolded knowledge and skills, educators need to intervene to solidify foundation proficiencies before students can learn new on-grade content without a struggle.
Learning gaps are to education what disease cells are to an otherwise robust organism. Insidious and pernicious, they proliferate silently, debilitating the system.
Gaps multiply from grade to grade, feeding off each other, getting resistant to closure as the years go by. As arithmetic is prerequisite to algebra, the content of each grade lays a foundation for later grades that, if neglected, brings the whole education smashing down.
As it exists today, “the system” allows gaps to persist and proliferate, masked by tolerating what is “acceptable:” As, Bs and Cs in the conventional letter grading system.
Teachers are accountable for teaching and learning course content, but are often required to close gaps in prerequisite content before proceeding with that new content. If student learning was tracked and managed at the content or competency level, those critical gaps would be conspicuous and less likely to persist. Working independently, teachers can use the On-Grade Model and its tools to validate a student's necessary prior knowledge and customize any required gap closure plan.