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10 Ways to Boost Academic Achievement in Students

June 5, 2024

A young student reading in the school library

High academic achievement can create more opportunities for students throughout their lives. The study skills, social skills, knowledge, and problem-solving abilities that students learn at school will support them through future studies, careers, and adulthood itself.

So it’s no wonder that parents, teachers, and administrators all want to boost academic achievement for young learners. However, it can be challenging to help every student, each with their own unique background, barriers, and learning style, fulfill their academic potential.

Here, we’ll cover ten practical and effective ways to boost your students’ academic achievement, no matter what challenges they face.

What Does Academic Achievement Look Like?

Every student is different and has their own strengths and weaknesses. But we can still talk about academic achievement in broad terms.

Academic achievement is part of student success. It’s the key to making sure that learners have the skills, tools, and knowledge to tackle their goals in life. In academic settings, we often use standardized testing and assessments to measure success and compare learners to their peers. 

However, we should also challenge students to improve on their past achievements, in addition to measuring up to wider standards. They might also set academic goals for themselves, such as achieving admission into college or gaining specific competencies to serve their career goals.

Why Academic Achievement Standards Matter

In the U.S., individual states set their own academic standards and use them to create curricula and assess student achievement.

While we often view academic achievement standards as rating tools for school districts, high standards can also make a difference for students themselves in the form of educational equity.

Educational Equity

State-wide benchmarks mean that every student is held to the same academic standards. It’s a vital part of equitable education because, historically, educators have had lower expectations for students from certain backgrounds — leading to inequitable grading.

Setting high universal standards can challenge those biases. When high standards are combined with culturally responsive teaching and supplemental learning (such as summer academic enrichment programs), students score better on evaluations. 

Instructional Planning

Academic standards are the framework that educators use to develop curricula and plan their lessons. They make teaching more effective by clearly directing students’ learning toward academic achievement.

Planning lessons in depth also gives teachers the time and space to offer personalized learning. Because the structure of the lesson is already in place, the teacher can monitor progress and make adjustments for students who need it — without losing sight of the overall plan.

Assessment Practices

Finally, academic standards guide assessments. They’re useful benchmarks for measuring student performance, as well as the progress of individual students over time.

Objective, standards-based assessments help you spot learning gaps as soon as they appear. Instead of falling behind, students can instantly get the high-quality support they need to catch up. 

10 Opportunities to Boost Academic Achievement With Your Students

Effective methods for raising academic achievement in your school district will depend on the specific challenges that you face. For example, some public schools struggle with high student-teacher ratios and inadequate funding, while others are worried about absenteeism and disengaged learners.

These ten opportunities can help you make improvements. Upfront, you can pick and choose the methods that will work best for your situation, but ideally, you’ll be able to implement them all in the long term. 

1. Set Clear Learning Goals

Students work better when they understand what’s expected of them. When you set clear learning goals, they know what they should achieve and how to get there.

The “SMART” goal framework can be helpful here. It’s even more effective if students take part in writing their own goals.

  • Specific: Clearly define goals and break them down into manageable steps.
  • Measurable: Students can measure progress against their past grades or wider academic standards.
  • Achievable: Choose a goal the student will find motivational, not impossible.
  • Relevant: Whether it relates to skills, knowledge, study habits, or time management, the goal should directly link to academic achievement.
  • Time-bound: Set a time frame with a deadline for extra motivation.

2. Provide Individualized Instruction

Differentiating teaching material for individual students can drastically improve academic achievement.

Instead of expecting all children to be the same, educators can cater to different learning styles, access needs, cultures, strengths, and weaknesses. Classes can be adapted for each student’s educational journey.

However, it can be tough to offer personalized student support in a crowded classroom. Supplemental learning, enrichment programs, and LIVE teaching can help fill the gaps. 

3. Promote Active Learning

Regardless of learning style, every student can benefit from active learning. Instead of passively receiving instruction, they should be solving problems, thinking critically, and researching new topics for themselves.

Evidence from Carnegie-Mellon University shows that active learning leads to better understanding, knowledge retention, and student engagement. It also helps children develop critical thinking, social, and study skills that they can use throughout their lives.

The best part? You don’t need any special resources to implement active learning. It can be as simple as building discussion time and group work into a lesson plan. 

4. Offer Timely Feedback

Think about your own professional development and experiences. If you’re off track, would you prefer to hear that from your boss now — or six months later, once the damage is already done?

Just like adults, children perform better at school when they receive timely, constructive feedback. They benefit when educators are open about academic standards and expectations.

Every student should get regular assessments from their teachers, with specific guidance on how they can improve. 

5. Encourage Student Collaboration

Collaborating with fellow students is a key part of active learning. It also supports teamwork, communication skills, and social-emotional development.

As students work and problem-solve together, they’ll create a supportive and inclusive atmosphere. Some learners may even be able to mentor each other, helping with study skills and schoolwork. 

However, collaboration like this is unlikely to happen spontaneously. You’ll need to foster it through group discussions, shared projects, and guidance on how to cooperate effectively.  

6. Foster Growth Mindsets

A growth mindset is essential to student learning. It’s an attitude that encourages effort, perseverance, and resilience. Instead of thinking, “I can’t do that,” students with a growth mindset say, “I can learn to do that.”

You can model a growth mindset by encouraging students to think about their individual progress. While they might not yet measure up to state-wide academic standards, they should still feel proud when they improve their own grades, study habits, or attitude at school.

SMART goals can also help foster a growth mindset. When you set specific, actionable goals, students feel more confident that their hard work will pay off.

7. Use Technology For Learning

So far, we’ve mostly focused on educational approaches and attitudes to boost academic success. But technology also offers innovative opportunities to improve academic performance.

Technology gives learners the ability to study more subjects, access more diverse resources, and engage in more interactive learning. If each student has their own screen, their learning can also be independent, teaching them valuable life skills and study habits. 

Educational apps, virtual simulations, and LIVE online teaching can all supplement the classroom experience. They provide new opportunities for collaboration and creativity, wherever your students are learning from.

8. Create Positive Learning Environments

High academic standards challenge students. They’re supposed to.

But to make sure the challenge remains enjoyable rather than overwhelming, educators have to create a positive and supportive learning environment.

Every student should feel safe, respected, welcome, and motivated to learn. The right atmosphere will give them the confidence to try new skills, take risks, and relate to their peers.

The best way to create a positive learning environment is by modeling it. Educators should live the values that they want students to follow, such as being supportive, offering constructive feedback, celebrating diversity, and respecting others. They can also guide students by setting clear expectations for behavior and effort in the classroom. 

9. Engage Parents and Guardians

Academic achievement and engagement start at home. Parental involvement has a well-documented effect on academic achievement at every grade level.

Educators have to work together with parents and guardians to support their students. In some cases, that means presenting a united front about academic and behavioral expectations. It can also mean taking cultural backgrounds and family circumstances into account in order to support students better.

Educators can build those relationships through regular communication, keeping families up to speed on students’ progress and performance. Teachers can also provide resources, advice on home study time, and opportunities to join in on school activities.

10. Support Social and Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) includes abilities like self-awareness, social skills, and emotional resilience. While those might sound like “soft” skills, they can have a significant effect on academic achievement. 

SEL helps students manage their emotions in times of adversity, build positive, collaborative relationships with each other, and make responsible decisions about behavior, study time, and subject choices. Every class is an opportunity to practice SEL and reap the benefits. 

Educators can support SEL through the same methods they use to encourage interactive learning, student collaboration, and growth mindsets. Activities like group discussions, peer support, and peer feedback can all promote SEL and personal development.

Work With Elevate K-12 To Promote Academic Achievement In Your Schools

Academic achievement is a powerful predictor of students’ future success. 

Educators can boost academic achievement by planning lessons carefully, following assessment best practices, and creating an equitable learning environment. Tools such as interactive learning, individualized instruction, and educational technology can help every student reach their greatest potential. 

At Elevate K-12, we’re boosting academic achievement across the country by giving students access to LIVE teaching and supplemental learning. Our solutions help solve the critical issues teachers and schools face today, so they can give their students the support they need to succeed.

Learn more about Elevate K-12 and start raising academic standards in your school district today.

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