RTL Terminology

Return to Learn Essential Terminology


Closing the Gap

  • One type of gap is the difference in performance between different subgroups of students (e.g., between students with and without IEPs). The second type of gap is the difference in performance for all students between the level of learning they would have achieved had school not been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the level of learning they actually achieved during the 2019-2020 school year. Closing the gap affords increased opportunities to learn knowledge and skills found in Iowa’s Academic Standards so that all students achieve grade-level proficiency by the end of the 2020-2021 school year.


Essential Skills

  • Essential skills are the most critical skills and knowledge in a grade level or course.


Unfinished Teaching and Learning

  • This protocol uses data to consider the unfinished opportunity to learn that students may have and the need to advance on grade-level standards. Unfinished teaching and learning is a factor in both teaching and student variables. Unfinished learning is learning that was not taught, minimally taught, or not accessed and that is essential to accelerating learning. Teachers/teams will determine how to best address unfinished teaching and learning including prioritizing it as part of the classroom instruction and/or through small group support.


Accelerating Learning

  • To accelerate students’ progress, system leaders and educators need to identify exactly what learning needs to be addressed, when, and how. We identify the content knowledge and skills the students might struggle with in their current grade level, and fill those potential gaps “just in time,” when the material occurs in the school year. In contrast to remediation, accelerated learning requires that students consistently receive grade-level materials, tasks, and assignments, along with appropriate scaffolds that make the work accessible. More specifically, instead of sending students backwards to fill in the potential gaps in their learning, leaders and teachers should focus on filling in only the most critical gaps--not in isolation, but at the moment they are needed. These “just in time” scaffolds address the necessary content knowledge and skills students need to engage in the most immediate work of the grade or course.


On-site Learning

  • Students physically attend school in person.


Continuous Learning

  • Students participate in online learning or paper/pencil learning from home.


Hybrid Learning

  • Some combination of on-site and continuous learning. For example, attend school two days a week for on-site learning and do continuous learning at home two days a week.


Face Coverings

  • Face masks, Face Shields, Neck Gaiters - meeting CDC recommendations