Addressing Barriers to Learning and Teaching
and Re-engaging Students
About the Collaboration with Scholastic
We are frequently asked:
What did Scholastic, Inc. have to do with Introducing Educators to a Unified, Comprehensive, and Equitable System of Learning Supports?
After the 2005 hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, schools had to do considerable rebuilding. As with the COVID 19 pandemic, the concern for students’ well-being was front and center.
Seeing the need for an intensive focus on student/learning supports, Scholastic reached out to our Center to ask us to establish a public-private collaboration with them that could bring our Center’s prototypes for transforming student/learning supports to affected districts. So we joined them in their Rebuilding for Learning initiative. As the work proceeded, Scholastic decided to join us in outreaching to districts across the country about the need to move their student and learning supports in new directions.
The work stressed a strategic and personalized approach for moving schools forward in developing a unified, comprehensive, and equitable 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.
To highlight the work, Scholastic asked us to prepare a brief overview for districts and schools. That booklet, as edited by them, was circulated in 2008. To provide free and easy access, we put it online. See
Adelman, H.S. & Taylor, L. (2008). Rebuilding for Learning: Addressing Barriers to Learning and Teaching and Re engaging Students. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc. https://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/rebuild/RebuidlingV11RD28.pdf
Initially, our work with Scholastic was carried out as part of their noncommercial commitment to help communities in need. After a couple of years, however, Scholastic decided to try to turn the work into a commercial venture. See, for example, https://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/ex22020.pdf.
Because of our Center’s commitment to ensuring free access to our work, Scholastic’s commercialization of our prototypes meant we could no longer collaborate with them.
But, of course, our Center continues to work in multifaceted ways to improve how schools and communities address barriers to learning and teaching. See, for example, our recent resources for improving student/learning supports:
>Rethinking Student and Learning Supports https://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/fall22.pdf
>Student/Learning Supports: A Brief Guide for Moving in New Directions https://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/briefguide.pdf
Also see: >Embedding Mental Health as Schools Change https://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/improving_school_improvement.html
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.