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Renaissance Releases K–12 Focus Skills to Help Educators Predict and Mitigate COVID-19 Learning Gaps

by PRP Group, on 06/16/2020

Focus Skills help educators identify and teach critical reading and math skills known to have the greatest impact on learning

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (June 16, 2020)  Renaissance, a global leader in pre-K–12 education technology, has released Focus Skills tailored for each state to help educators bring students up to speed quickly following the extended school closures caused by COVID-19.

Determined through extensive research to be the skills most critical for accelerating learning and closing learning gaps, Focus Skills unlock student understanding of key ideas in the subjects students are studying. Identified as key skills within Renaissance’s learning progressions—the path students take as they move from a novice to an expert level of understanding, according to the standards of each state—Focus Skills are essential for student progression and are prerequisites for learning future skills. Focus Skills are also transferrable skills that help students achieve success in adjacent domains and subjects.

Though the acquisition of any new skill affects learning, Focus Skills are the smaller subset of key building blocks that are vital for furthering learning. By prioritizing mastery of Focus Skills, educators can help students develop the essential knowledge and skills to move to the next level. To help educators create a triage plan for their students this fall to bring them up to speed, Renaissance has released a collection of Focus Skills assets, including:

  • Interactive visualizations of each state’s Focus Skills and domains, with the ability to drill down into specific skill details, offering quick insight into key skills students may have missed in previous years.
  • A research brief explaining the importance of Focus Skills and how they inform teachers as they decide how to best help students recover from learning disruptions and get back on track for the new academic year.

“When students return to school this fall, educators across the country will encounter the greatest diversity of skill levels they’re likely to have seen in their careers,” said Dr. Katie McClarty, VP of research and design at Renaissance. “Knowing which skills to prioritize will go a long way toward mitigating learning losses. We believe that Focus Skills will be a critical piece of making that work manageable and help us understand where students need additional support.”

Educators can access Renaissance’s Focus Skills at

In addition to making Focus Skills widely available, Renaissance is conducting new research to answer questions like “Without summative testing data, what information do we have about how students performed this spring?” and “How will students perform when they come back to school in the fall?” The answers to these questions will shed greater light on the true impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on K–12 education.

About Renaissance
As a global leader in assessment, reading, and math solutions for pre-K–12 schools and districts, Renaissance is committed to providing educators with insights and resources to accelerate growth and help all students build a strong foundation for success. Renaissance solutions are used in over one-third of US schools and in more than 100 countries worldwide. The Renaissance portfolio includes Star Assessments, for reliable, accurate insights into K–12 student learning; myIGDIs, for accurate assessment of early learning; myON, to increase students’ access to high-quality reading materials; Accelerated Reader, to support independent reading practice; Freckle, for teacher-led differentiated instruction; and Schoolzilla, to give educators actionable insights into trends in student attendance and achievement. For more information, visit

Press contact:
Ken Stoflet
Communications Specialist
(715) 424-3636 ext. 2332

Topics:News Release