Insights CommonLit 360 Makes Accelerated Learning Achievable

Student on a laptop smiling proudly at his teacher as he is learning.

Reading Scores Drop. Students Performing at Lowest Levels in 50 years. Scores are Sinking! Since the National Assessment of Educational Progress report card 2023 NAEP scores was published, these headlines and others like them have been featured in publications across the country. While the data shows that many students are losing ground in reading proficiency, accelerated learning is a strategy that can bring significant student gains in reading and help close the performance gap that more and more school systems are facing.

In contrast to traditional remediation strategies, accelerated learning gives students the skills and support they need to be successful with on-grade level learning as opposed to falling further behind. The benefits of accelerated learning versus remediation are explained in this study from the University of Michigan. In essence, studies have found that in order to close the performance gap, students need grade-level content, strong instruction, deep engagement, and high expectations from teachers. Instead of trying to go back and reteach all the information that students missed, accelerated learning provides students with these grade-level learning opportunities featuring supportive measures to aid in understanding and comprehending material. With this teaching method, students stay in step with their peers and have the scaffolding they need to gain proficiency and become more confident learners.

How can you accelerate learning with CommonLit 360?

All the strategies and guidance that teachers need to accelerate learning can be found in the curriculum of CommonLit 360. CommonLit 360 is a full and robust ELA curriculum for grades 6-12 that provides comprehensive literacy instruction through rigorous and engaging lessons. The CommonLit 360 units are on-grade level and on-target to help students improve their literacy outcomes. Using CommonLit 360 gives teachers all the materials they need to provide the intentional support and scaffolding that will help raise students’ reading levels. To date, CommonLit’s 360 curriculum has been proven to provide impressive results in student growth in contrast to nationwide reading trends.

The CommonLit 360 Curriculum features six complete instructional units per grade that are focused on teaching grade-level focus standards. In every unit, reading instruction takes place using both informational and literary texts that are engaging and multi-faceted. Each unit comes with an array of reading lessons that revolve around one Essential Question that ties all the texts together. These lessons give students access to rich literary selections and feature opportunities for actionable data collection, so you can see exactly where students are struggling. Based on this student data, CommonLit 360 provides opportunities for intentional support through such tools as guided reading, read aloud options, translations, and annotation opportunities. Each lesson also provides teachers with editable slide decks that can be used to build background knowledge and hook students.

Computer screen with reading and writing lesson and student’s fingers on keyboard


In addition to reading, CommonLit 360 also provides ample opportunities to practice and improve writing skills in the goal of accelerating learning. Each lesson gives students the opportunity to build writing stamina with short answer questions, introspective paragraphs, and more. For example, in the first unit of the sixth grade curriculum, we teach students to break down prompts and write introductory and then body paragraphs. These lessons lead to a culminating literary analysis paper built through thoughtful and progressive writing instruction. The writing skills build in complexity as the units progress, but they all begin with foundational practice and instruction to help students become more confident in their writing abilities.

One of the most engaging supplements to the reading and writing lessons are our Related Media Exploration opportunities. These flexible multimedia lessons feature videos, graphics, podcasts, and more as a way to foster real-world connections that help students better engage with the texts they’re reading. One of the primary components of accelerating learning is access to grade-level material, and building background knowledge through the Related Media Exploration is key for this. When students’ brains are able to link prior knowledge with the text they’re reading, they are able to make inferences and retain information much more easily. The Related Media Exploration activities help bring each unit to life by giving students a connection with the unit’s Essential Question and can be done as a whole class activity, small group or partner cooperative learning or as individual practice.

Vocabulary instruction is also an integral part of our CommonLit 360 units with each one featuring a set of high frequency vocabulary words that students will interact with and internalize. These words are on-grade level and high use words that will help struggling readers be more successful. In addition, there are opportunities to practice writing with the vocabulary as well as vocabulary assessments that teachers can assign and get additional data on.  

The final skill that each CommonLit 360 unit focuses on is discussion. Getting students to talk meaningfully about texts and listen to one another’s input is a valuable skill that transfers directly into college and career readiness. For each unit, there’s a discussion activity that reflects the overall Essential Question and ties the stories and articles together. Rich discussion in classrooms doesn’t just happen, so each unit provides students with valuable hints and strategies on how to have successful class discussions. Teachers are able to guide rich and thoughtful conversation that is centered around the text and the overarching Essential Question. These discussions give students the opportunity to interact with one another and foster classroom community.

So while the NAEP data doesn’t paint a positive picture about students’ reading progress at the moment, the tools that CommonLit 360 provides can make a difference as it helps teachers close the performance gap for their students.

Take the next steps to find out more about bringing CommonLit to your school to assist in accelerating your students’ learning with our affordable support packages to engage students, train teachers, and track data.

Sign up for our newsletter