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Achieving Equity: Understanding Each Child’s Cognitive Strengths and Weaknesses

The second in a five-part series written by Betsy Hill and Roger Stark, BrainWare Learning Company.

The first article in this series suggested that he greatest obstacle to equity that students face in the U.S. is their cognitive capacity because cognitive skills are how students access learning experiences, however they are provided.  We talked about the urgency of the situation, especially given the impact of COVID on learning, as well as the impact of poverty on cognitive development.  Since education and economics are, essentially, two sides of the same coin, addressing educational equity is essential.

Having identified the problem, we would need to be able to three things to solve it:

  1. Understand each student’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses
  2. Remediate, build and strengthen both weaker cognitive processes and those that are already strong
  3. Construct learning environments (technology, instruction, curriculum, etc.) incorporating science rather than folklore

This second article in the series discusses the importance of and how we can understand each student’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses.

When students struggle with learning, very often it is not a matter of curriculum or instruction.  The underlying reason is likely a weakness in one or more underlying cognitive skills.  In fact, research suggests that more of the variance (42%) in academic performance relates to cognitive skills, much more than other factors, including instructional time, instructional quality and the home environment.

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