Addressing Barriers to Learning and Teaching
and Re-engaging Students
About the Collaboration with Scholastic
Initially, we worked with Scholatic on theirRebuilding for Learning initiative. Scholastic conceived the Rebuilding initiative as a way to provide support for Gulf Coast schools after the 2005 hurricanes. However, during Scholastic's initial research for the initiative, it became obvious that Gulf Coast districts were not the only ones facing serious "learning infrastructure" problems impeding teaching and learning. Thus, Scholastic reached out to our Center at UCLA to expand the scope of the work to focus on enabling all children to have an equal opportunity to succeed at school. The work stressed a strategic and personalized approach for moving schools forward in developing a unified and comprehensive system to address barriers to teaching and learning. The aim was to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to succeed at school and a strong start toward being productive societal contributors.
Toward Effectively Addressing Barriers to Learning
Most schools strain to address the various challenges faced by students, their families, and school staff' challenges that often seriously interfere with learning and teaching. The notion of "barriers to learning" encompasses both external and internal factors that negatively affect student motivation and ability to benefit from classroom instruction. These factors include the wide range of problems stemming from restricted opportunities associated with poverty and disability, neighborhood violence, difficult family conditions, inadequate physical and mental health care, acquiring English as a second language, experiencing crises and disasters, and more.
Currently, student and learning supports are so highly fragmented and marginalized in policy and practice that the resources allocated to address barriers to learning are not playing a costeffective role in improving schools. Schools, districts, and state education agencies need to redeploy existing resources and programs that are allocated for addressing barriers to learning and must weave these together with the invaluable resources that can be accessed from students, family members, and community stakeholders.