Accelerate Learning for Students: A Case Study on Previewing

Accelerate or Remediate?

While often debated in the educational world, the data-backed answer for a North Carolina school district is clear.


Catawba County Schools is the largest school district in Catawba County, North Carolina. Like many districts, they knew some students struggled to meet proficiency levels, particularly in mathematics. Traditional remediation methods were not yielding the desired results, and there was a need for an innovative approach to address performance and boost student confidence.

Accelerate with Previewing Learning-Focused Partnership

The district has had a long-standing partnership with Learning-Focused. District staff had been certified in the Learning-Focused Training of Trainers method, allowing them to go back and train educators on specific teaching methods. Shelly Black, then the Director of Elementary Education (since promoted), was directly responsible for 14 schools. Shelly had previously been working with Learning-Focused to implement an instructional framework, which was interrupted by COVID and then changing district requirements.

When the district received a state-funded grant specifically allocated to enhance the educational outcomes of students, they saw the potential of an Acceleration with Previewing initiative. They selected it based on research, the increase in student self-efficacy, and the structural benefits of Previewing versus Remediation.

Learning-Focused provided an Accelerate Learning with Previewing Training of Trainers Institute, which allowed district trainers to train teachers using the Accelerate Learning with Previewing Book. In addition, Learning-Focused provided their expertise to ensure the program was executed effectively.


Implementation Begins with Designing a Successful Program

The team involved in the program worked closely with their students, fostering a supportive learning environment that encouraged risk-taking and built confidence. The following steps to implementation included:

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    Providing Expert Teacher Training

    District-level professionals received training and subsequently trained school-level staff selected to participate to ensure the program's methodologies were well understood and effectively implemented.

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    Focusing on a Small, Targeted Group:

    Principals and teachers identified students performing below or just at proficiency levels for targeted intervention. The program was tailored for small groups of 8-10 students, ensuring personalized attention and targeted support in math as the content area.

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    Establishing Morning Previewing Sessions:

    The grant aimed to support students outside of the instructional day, so students met twice weekly in the morning. These Previewing sessions took place from October to April. The teaching team met with the classroom teacher to identify the lesson and what needed to be previewed. During the Previewing sessions, they introduced the upcoming lessons, allowing them to engage with the material beforehand.

Overall, the program was thoughtfully designed to build confidence and help the students take risks and envision success.

“The students getting the previewing are now more willing to share in whole group conversations.”

David Ryhal, 5th Grade Math Teacher


The Results: Significant Growth in Student Performance and Confidence

The Acceleration with Previewing initiative proved successful, significantly improving student performance.

District Wide Success

The team saw success right away, and most teachers loved the program. Results were evident in data from i-Ready Benchmarks and previous End-of-Grade (EOG) assessments.

In the graph to the right, you will see that almost 60% of the students who participated in the Previewing sessions were Proficient on the EOG.

EOG Pass

Classroom Success

One Exceptional Children teacher implemented Previewing with three students in a small group.  She saw a dramatic increase in their performance, as shown in the graph to the right.  The graph shows their percentile at the end of 4th, 5th, and 6th.  Previewing was implemented during their 6th-grade year, which is at the elementary school in Catawba County.

One specific student went from the 2nd percentile to the 78 percentile.


Student Results for Individual Classroom

Teachers Perspective on Previewing

Amanda Cox, a fourth-grade ELA teacher at Clyde Campbell Elementary in Catawba County was one of the teachers who led a before-school previewing session for Math.

This is an excerpt from a video in which Amanda Described her experience:  "I was having daily conversations with the math teachers so that my instruction was on point to what was coming next in the classroom. The purpose of our previewing sessions was to stay two to three days ahead of content instruction in the regular classroom and to primarily focus on vocabulary. Vocabulary success requires exposure as often as possible. Students that hear, see and use words frequently increase their comfort with that knowledge and thus take ownership of those vocabulary terms. Our goal was to expose students to upcoming vocabulary so that when they encounter these terms in the regular setting, they would be more comfortable and interact with classroom dialogue. These bubble kids were typically the students that sat quietly in the classroom. They would allow their more confident classmates to lead the classroom discussions. It was amazing to watch these students become class leaders. They began to interact more and at times, lead math discussions of the content. Their confidence soared and resulted in these students taking more risks in the classroom. I would like to share two ways that we previewed math content in our previewing sessions."

Click here to watch her entire video.

“Everybody grew together, and the kids became leaders.”

Shelly Black

David Ryhal, a 5th grade Math teacher at Oxford Elementary School in Catawba County, was also one of the teachers who led a before-school previewing session for Math.

David shared his experience for our newsletter, but one statement stood out: “The students getting the previewing are now more willing to share in whole group conversations. Some of the students never talked in class and would never share, even if they had the right answer.

Click here to read more from David.

With tangible improvements in student confidence and academic achievement, those involved recognized the value and effectiveness of the program. Although grant funding concludes at the end of 2024, the district plans to expand the program to include reading, given its success.


Interested in Enhancing Academic Achievement at Your School?

Discover how Previewing can accelerate learning. Get in touch with Learning-Focused to find out how we can assist your school, teachers, and students in achieving academic excellence.


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